How to prioritize tasks efficiently

Making decisions

Prioritizing your tasks efficiently can be overwhelming at times. In this article I’ll show you a beefed up To-Do list that you can start implementing in your day-to-day life (there’s even an app for it!) This method is called the “Eisenhower Decision Matrix” or “Eisenhower Box” and was named after the 34th U.S president Dwight Eisenhower.

First Things First

Consolidate your tasks

There are so many things going on in our daily lives that To-Do lists can be mistaken for monthly grocery bills! The idea behind creating a To-Do list is noble: to contain a list of items that we should give our attention to completing. However, traditional To-Do lists fail to account for the relative importance and urgency of tasks.

The Beautiful Details

Enter the matrix

Eisenhower Decision Matrix

Table 1 – Eisenhower Decision Matrix

The decision matrix is broken up into 4 quadrants which have To-Do lists within them. The beauty of this matrix is that it forces you to analyze each task and put them into one of the 4 quadrants.

It can be very tempting to mark down all tasks as “Urgent and Important”.

However, to help with this process, think about the following 2 questions when sorting through your task list:

  1. What am I working toward?
  2. What are the core values that drive my life?

It’s important to carefully filter each task and ensure that it goes into the correct quadrant. As Dwight Eisenhower said

“What is important is seldom urgent and what is urgent is seldom important.”

It might be helpful to you to bear this in mind as you fill out the task matrix.

Urgent and Important

These tasks are both urgent and important. They have to be addressed immediately. Generally speaking, these tasks are usually crises, problems or deadlines.

Not Urgent and Important

These tasks don’t have deadlines but are important to your long term goals, be it work, school or overall life path. Generally speaking, these tasks are usually future planning, self-improvement and relationship building.

Urgent and Not Important

These tasks are those that require immediate attention, but don’t help you achieve your long-term goals or fulfill your life purpose. Generally speaking, these tasks are usually interruptions from other people, and often involve helping them with their goals and priorities.

Not Urgent and Not Important

These tasks are NOT urgent and NOT important. They are “time killer” activities that don’t help you achieve any of your goals. Generally speaking, these are usually distractions.

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