Eisenhower Matrix

It’s crunch time. You’ve got a million things to do. You don’t know if you’ll be able to finish them all, and you’re torn between things you need to do and things that you really want to do. Meanwhile, you keep getting distracted by Facebook, text messages, and cat videos on the internet. How do you prioritize your to-do list?
Try using the Eisenhower Matrix, a method supposedly developed and used by the U.S. President of the same name. It evaluates tasks and activities on two different levels: urgency and importance. Important activities are those you value most, whereas urgent ones are those that have to be completed soonest. By rating the things you have to do on these two scales, you’ll end up with four types of tasks, as shown by this chart.

Group 1: Urgent and Important: Do now

Activities in Group 1 are both valuable and pressing. Let’s say you arrive back at your apartment after a long day and discover your roommate has broken her leg and needs to be taken to the hospital. That qualifies as both important (she is in a lot of pain) and urgent (she needs treatment now). Complete activities in Group 1 immediately, or you’ll soon regret it.
Examples: Emergencies, eminent deadlines, pressing problems

Group 2: Important but not Urgent: Decide when you’ll do it
Activities in Group 2 are valuable but don’t have to be completed immediately. For example, keeping in touch with family members is very important. (This is a friendly reminder to call your mother). If you don’t call her immediately, however, both you and she will probably be okay. It’s important, but not urgent. Plan when you’ll finish activities in Group 2, but don’t wait too long, or they’ll become urgent.
Examples: Relationships, distant deadlines, household tasks

Group 3: Urgent but not Important: Decide if you’ll do it or delegate it to someone else

Activities in Group 3 are set in a specific time, but are not particularly valuable. For instance, if you want to attend a BYU basketball game, you have to go when it’s scheduled. If you miss the game, however, you’ll probably survive. After planning when to complete activities in Groups 1 and 2, decide if you still have time for those in Group 3.
Examples: Sporting events, social events, answering phone calls

Group 4: Neither Important nor Urgent: Only do if everything else is done
Activities in Group 4 are neither urgent nor important. Simply put, they’re time wasters. They have no real value and can be done at any time. Though there’s nothing inherently bad about them, they should not be completed at the expense of more important, urgent activities. Save them for last, then, when everything’s done, feel free to enjoy them.
Examples: Social media, video games, Netflix
The next time you have a time crunch, try sorting things out into these categories. It will help you prioritize your to-do list and accomplish everything more effectively.

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