How do you prioritise tasks? Do you use the Eisenhower Matrix?

March 11, 2024 by Natalie Brewer
How do you prioritise tasks? Do you use the Eisenhower Matrix?

Prioritising tasks by urgency and importance helps you to decide what needs to be done and when.

Being able to prioritise and focus your time and energy where it’s needed the most is an invaluable skill that will ultimately help you run your business better and reduce stress. The Eisenhower Matrix is a great tool that may help!

Also known as the Urgent-Important Matrix or the Eisenhower Box, the Eisenhower Matrix is a template that encourages you to divide tasks into four boxes based on the tasks you’ll do first, the tasks you’ll schedule for later, the tasks you’ll delegate, and the tasks you’ll ignore. 

A matrix is better than a standard list of to-do tasks. Why? If all your tasks are in a list format, how do you determine which one/s to tackle first?  By effectively categorising your tasks in order of urgency and importance, you will have a clear vision of your priority tasks, which in turn will increase your productivity and ensure that you give your attention to the most urgent tasks.

How to use the Eisenhower Matrix

A key skill is to know how to distinguish between urgent and important tasks. 

Urgent tasks require your immediate attention and there are clear consequences if you don’t complete a task within a certain timeline. You are likely to be more stressed the longer they remain on your to-do list! 

Examples of urgent tasks include:

  • Meeting an agreed client deadline
  • Paying a bill by a certain date
  • Mending broken equipment that’s preventing your team from completing their business tasks
  • Tax returns and VAT deadlines!

Important tasks may not require immediate attention but completing them will help you to achieve your long-term goals. These tasks need to be planned in but may be completed by someone else in your team. 

Examples of important tasks include:

  • Planning for a long-term project cover for staff holidays
  • Professional networking to build a client base
  • Cover for staff holidays

How the Eisenhower Matrix got its name

Named after Dwight D. Eisenhower, the 34th President of the United States and a five-star general during World War II, the Eisenhower Matrix was created by Stephen Covey, author of The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. Covey used the following words, spoken by Dwight D. Eisenhower.

“I have two kinds of problems, the urgent and the important. The urgent are not important, and the important are never urgent.”

Of course, this may not be accurate in our working lives but it’s certainly a thought-provoking statement!

Top Tips for using the Eisenhower Matrix from the Hour Hands team

  1. We recommend putting 6-8 tasks in each quadrant and certainly no more than that.  Otherwise it all becomes overwhelming and you won’t use the matrix.
  2. Update the matrix regularly. Focus on finishing tasks and remove the ones that you’ve completed. Always complete and remove a task before adding a new one!
  3. Before adding any task, always question whether it really needs to be done. Could you give the task to someone else to complete? 
  4. Put business and personal tasks onto one matrix. That helps you balance your priorities and ensure you do things for ‘you’ as well as for your business.
  5. Do not let others define your priorities – make your own plan every day and work on it.
  6. Celebrate the completion of a task – have a cup of tea or coffee, stand up and stretch, complete wordle : whatever works for you!

How the flexible Hour Hands team will flex to support you and your business too

Hour Hands is made up of experienced EAs, personal assistants and bookkeepers who are waiting and willing to support you with those urgent and important tasks that you just don’t have the time to complete. From booking travel, to managing your diary and managing your accounts and tax returns – we can help you complete tasks and shift them off your matrix (or to-do list!). We flex our offer to suit your needs be it a one off project or resolving a particular task, or even delivering long term support. 

To find out more simply call us on 01727 818262. We will ask how we can support you and offer a solution either on an hourly rate or package cost. The choice is yours – we simply want to help.