The World of Work Project

Eisenhower Matrix

The Eisenhower Matrix is a prioritization tool that assesses the urgency and importance of tasks. Tasks identified as important & urgent tasks are done first, important and non-urgent are done later, urgent & unimportant tasks are delegated and non-urgent and unimportant tasks are eliminated.

Summary by The World of Work Project

Eisenhower Matrix

The Eisenhower Matrix is a four-box, 2×2 matrix model that is used to help with the prioritization of tasks.

To use it individuals consider the importance of a task on the vertical axis and the urgency of a tool on the horizontal axis. Tasks that are both urgent and important are the ones that should be done first. Those that are important but not urgent should be scheduled for a later time. Those which are urgency but unimportant should be delegated as much as possible, and those which are neither urgent nor important should be eliminated and not done at all.

The World of Work Project View

The Eisenhower Matrix is a useful way of thinking about things, and a useful tool for certain people. Individuals who are task focused and benefit from help with prioritizing often like to review their to-do list first thing in the morning and allocate their tasks within the Eisenhower Matrix. This provides a structure for the prioritization activity, and results in a clear plan of action for the day ahead.

In practice, there are some challenges with the model in the world of work when you’re managing not just yourself, but a range of stakeholders. Specifically, challenges often arise around importance.

Things that are important for one person in the world of work may not be important for another. Something your customer wants may appear more “important” than something your supplier wants, but prioritizing between the two is a judgement call. Making these judgement calls sometimes creates a division between what is good for the overall organization, and what is good for the individual making the decision.

Despite this challenge, we think this is a good model that’s worth experimenting with to decide if it’s helpful for you.

Sources and further reading

Where possible we always recommend that people read up on the original sources of information and ideas.

This post is based on original work attributed to former American president Dwight D. Eisenhower, but we have no specific academic references for further reading.


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