What to do when once again there are more tasks than time to complete them all? Almost everybody knows this problem. One solution is to categorize tasks into the dimensions Important and Urgent.
The definition of “important” and “urgent” is relative and can vary greatly from one individual to another. My definition, which I also use when working for my agency Wortspiel, is as follows:
- Important = What is at stake: Low revenue (or reputation) vs. high revenue (or reputation)
- Urgent = How great is the consequence of not acting immediately: No consequence vs. drama (client is very upset, threatens to leave)
Each task can be classified according to these categories in a matrix known as the “Eisenhower Method” after former US President Dwight D. Eisenhower (see picture above).
Another good interpretation of the Eisenhower matrix with examples is this one:
By the way, there is no evidence that the US President Eisenhower, who gave the name to the principle, practiced or taught it himself.
It only goes back to the following quotation that was attributed to him: “I have two kinds of problems, the urgent and the important. The urgent are not important, and the important are never urgent.”