A Simple Powerful Productivity Tool

An example of an urgent important matrix

My Matrix for Today

I have recently found myself with a ton of stuff to do – all kinds of writing work for clients, day-to-day chores, work on my other websites – you know the kind of thing. It’s great to be so busy, but  all too easy to get overwhelmed and focus on the unimportant things. I knew I had to find a solution or end up being totally unproductive.

The Answer

The Internet worked its usual magic and a short search revealed a very simple technique which I put into action immediately and have done so ever since. All you have to do is take a piece of paper and divide it into four. Label these four quadrants as follows:



Then just write your tasks under each heading. Urgent is something which has to be done within a given (usually short) timeframe while important things help us attain medium to long term goals. I started by writing the whole week’s work on the chart, but it was too much. Now I do this at the beginning of every day. It has had a huge impact on my productivity.

One of the reasons, for me anyway, is that the act of sorting all the tasks into one of the four categories makes you realise what is important and what isn’t. Maybe I’m just a moron, but it highlighted the fact that spending the same amount of time on carding my alpaca fleece as writing a content strategy for a client was not the best use of my time!

However, it also made me realise that I was spending too much time responding to “Urgent but not Important” stuff because it was jumping up and down and shouting at me in my inbox. I began noticing that I was prioritizing other people’s work, emails or Skype messages (often “urgent”) and delegating my own projects to the “Important not Urgent” category where they often got neglected.

I now try to work through as many of the “Important not Urgent” tasks as I can, rather than just doing the “Urgent and Important” ones.

Into the Matrix

The tool is known as the “Urgent/Important Matrix” and I’ve also seen it referred to as the “Eisenhower Decision Matrix” after Dwight D. Eisenhower.  It pops up in one form or another all over the Internet.

One of the goals of using the matrix apart from increasing productivity, is to help us give priority to the things that really matter, which are often overshadowed by the shouty short-term “notice me” items.

Give it a try and share the results!