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Eisenhower matrix: prioritizing to increase productivity

What is the Eisenhower method?

Origin of the Eisenhower Matrix

Does this name mean anything to you ? Yes, Eisenhower’s matrix is ​​indeed related to the one who was President of the United States from 1953 to 1961. And for good reason: Dwight D. Eisenhower, who distinguished himself as a military leader before taking over the presidency of the United States, is a benchmark for priority management.

Dwight D Eisenhower in 1959

“What is important is rarely urgent and what is urgent is rarely important” Dwight D. Eisenhower

It is according to this sentence that he would have pronounced that the matrix that bears his name was imagined. Hence its presentation in the form of a table along two axes: a horizontal axis for the urgency criterion, and a vertical axis for the importance criterion.

Here is an Eisenhower matrix:

Example of an Eisenhower matrix

The Eisenhower matrix: definition and principle

The Eisenhower matrix is ​​a task prioritization chart which is a tool for managing priorities, organizing work and helping with decision-making. From the classification of tasks according to their level of urgency and importance, we obtain a matrix which is presented in the form of a table with four boxes.

Depending on their position in one or other of the boxes, these tasks are treated differently:

  • The important and urgent missions, mentioned in quadrant 1, are to be prioritized, that is to say to be carried out yourself in a short time.
  • Important and non-urgent missions, listed in quadrant 2, are to be planned or standardized.
  • Unimportant but urgent tasks, listed in quadrant 3, should be delegated.
  • Non-important and non-urgent missions, listed in quadrant 4, can most of the time be abandoned.

After drawing up this table, you are therefore in a position to draw up a list of priority actions.

Objective: to help you focus on the essential tasks that fall within your mission.

Advantages and disadvantages of the Eisenhower method

The advantages of the Eisenhower Matrix

Prioritizing, planning, delegating, and knowing how to abandon sterile tasks: the Eisenhower table aims tooptimize organization and working time. It is a valuable tool if:

  • you feel overwhelmed
  • if you often have to work in a hurry
  • if you have difficulty delegating
  • and if you start to lose sight of your strategic goals.

The Disadvantages of the Eisenhower Matrix

The matrix may seem basic by this categorization into 4 parts which does not include any nuances. It can also be criticized because of a necessarily subjective treatment.

Why use the Eisenhower matrix?

Easy to understand, the Eisenhower matrix is ​​both synthetic and visual. It is particularly useful:

  • to managers confronted with work organization issues, whether it concerns their own agenda or the distribution of work in teams;
  • at any collaborater who wants to optimize their working time and productivity.

When is the Eisenhower diagram appropriate?

Sandrine Dupe-Kervinio

“I use the Eisenhower matrix with people under great pressure, linked to a high mental load and very tight delivery deadlines, explains Sandrine Dupé-Kervinio, professional business coach at B4U. This situation is common among business creators: often alone or with a reduced workforce, they are multi-tasking and overwhelmed by requests all day long: email, telephone, WhatsApp, Signal… It is therefore common for the person focuses on the urgent and loses track of what’s important. This is sometimes the case for business leaders in hyper-growth structures, often understaffed. »

Extended hours, lack of sleep, exhaustion, difficulty taking a step back and blurring the line between personal and professional life are all characteristic signs of a concern for work organization and time management.

Referring to the Laborit’s law, Sandrine Dupé-Kervinio emphasizes “that it is easier to respond to emergencies than to concentrate on the important, because important tasks require a high level of concentration. Dealing with the urgent is ultimately a form of denial: it’s a way of reassuring oneself and running away from the important. »

The Eisenhower matrix: for which profiles?

According to Sandrine Dupé-Kervinio, the method is particularly suited to executive and engineer profilesin particular for its visual and synthetic dimension.

As the B4U company coach points out, “these are often isolated people and expert profiles who appreciate this method. For example, I recommended it to an engineer who works in aeronautical innovation in the context of energy transition. Important stake, strong media exposure on the project, high level of pressure on the technological and competitive level led to performance anxiety for this collaborator. Eisenhower’s matrix allowed him to gain perspective on his mission, to find meaning and motivation on a daily basis, and to decide to rethink the distribution of his agenda over the coming months. He too needed to find an ecology, an accuracy in the management of his energy! »

How to properly use the Eisenhower matrix?

Integrating the Eisenhower Matrix into your daily life

A small revolution in the organization of daily work, the use of the Eisenhower method must be thought of in 4 steps:

1- List precisely all the tasks assigned to you. Notes, post-its, Trello, Google Drive: group all your tasks on a single document, in the form of bullet points for example.

2- Position these tasks in the Eisenhower matrix. Distinguishing the urgent from the important is not always easy: ask yourself the question of whether a task is essential and strategic to successfully accomplish your mission. Likewise, learn to distinguish what is urgent from what is not.
For example :

  • Resolving a conflict in your team or organizing a meeting with a prospect to obtain a strategic market are important and urgent missions.
  • Carrying out your competitive intelligence, doing your activity reporting or organizing the next Team Building are important but not urgent tasks.

3- Treat tasks according to their degree of urgency and importance: it’s time to plan your work, delegate certain tasks and give up bad habits that have no added value for achieving your goals .

4- Maintain your matrix over the long term, so as not to fall back into your old ways. The use of the Eisenhower method must therefore be integrated into your work habits.

  • It’s up to you to identify the right time to develop your matrix: at the end of the week for example, to know your schedule and your work priorities as soon as you arrive at the office on Monday morning.
  • In the same way, define the most appropriate periodicity to draw up your table: every day, every week or every month.
  • Finally, be aware that 6 months are often necessary to integrate new work routines. Stay the course: the positive effects on your schedule and your productivity will be felt quickly.

Example: the Eisenhower matrix for a recruitment mission

Valid whatever your profession, your sector of activity and your company, the Eisenhower matrix applies to any type of subject. problem.

? Let’s take the example of a human resources manager. In charge of recruitment, he must hire his future marketing director following a resignation. Recruitment must take place within 3 months to ensure a transition period with the resigning employee, the degree of urgency is quite high.

Thus, here is how the list of tasks for this recruitment mission could be distributed according to the Eisenhower matrix:

An example of an Eisenhower matrix: how to distribute tasks for an urgent recruitment mission

Free Software and Apps for Using the Eisenhower Matrix

To develop your matrix online, you can use these free applications:

  • Focus Matrix – Task Manager: possibility of associating deadlines and levels of importance to the different tasks, activity monitoring and reporting, listing of archived tasks, etc.
  • Eisenhower Matrix: it is an Excel spreadsheet with embedded macros. In particular, it makes it possible to reprioritize tasks by moving them.

Eisenhower matrix blank template to print

You can make your matrix by printing this Eisenhower matrix template ready to fill.

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