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Productivity Tips - Urgent vs Important Matrix


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A popular way to handle tasks, the Eisenhower Matrix is a grid containing 4 quadrants like such:

 1  |  2

 3  | 4

From left to right, quadrant 1 is labeled "Urgent" and quadrant 2 is labeled "Not Urgent".

From top to bottom, quadrant 1 is labeled "Important" and quadrant 3 is labeled "Not Important".

Each label corresponds to a quadrant in the following manner -

  • Quadrant 1 : Urgent and Important
  • Quadrant 2 Not Urgent and Important
  • Quadrant 3 : Urgent and Not Important
  • Quadrant 4 : Not Urgent and Not Important

With this framework, the idea is to organize your tasks in accordance with the matrix to assist in prioritization. Roughly speaking, each quadrant has an associated action.

  • Quadrant 1 : Urgent and Important : Do it
  • Quadrant 2 Not Urgent and Important : Schedule it
  • Quadrant 3 : Urgent and Not Important : Delegate it
  • Quadrant 4 : Not Urgent and Not Important : Delete it

For example, let's say you need to schedule an appointment for your dog as the vet. You could place this under Quadrant 2, but what if your dog swallowed a handful of chocolate? Suddenly this task belongs in Quadrant 1.  What if you want to watch the big game on Sunday? That could belong in Quadrant 4, meaning you shouldn't do it. But what if your friend from another state is visiting for the only time this year, and they want to watch the game with you? Well now we're back to Quadrant 2.

Like any tip or hack, this method will not ease the difficulty of life, and context is required to make the most of the tool. The next time you find yourself in a tizzy of "there's too much to do!", try writing the top 5 or 6 things that need to happen, then prioritize accordingly. 

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