How to use a simple time-management trick invented by President Eisenhower to become more productive and less stressed at work

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  • President Dwight D. Eisenhower developed the “Eisenhower Matrix.” It’s a tool for figuring out what’s important versus what’s urgent.
  • The tool was featured in Stephen Covey’s book “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People,” pinpointing effective practices that help professionals solve problems.
  • Your goal should be to spend time on tasks that are important but not urgent for maximum productivity. Covey wrote that people often spend too much time on things that are not important in the long term.
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The world of work has changed a lot since the 1950s, but some things have stayed the same. Time management, work prioritization, and stress management are all tools used to increase productivity.

Researchers are still exploring ways to be more efficient in the workplace. Some studies show that developing a morning routine may increase daily productivity, while other experts suggest tricking your brain into getting more done.

One method for increasing productivity is the “Eisenhower Matrix,” a tool developed by US President Eisenhower, who served from 1953 to 1961 — and it’s still a useful framework for anyone struggling to complete many projects at once. The tool was also highlighted in the late Stephen Covey’s bestselling business book, “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People,” pinpointing effective everyday practices that help solve professional problems. It’s introduced as part of Habit 3.

President Eisenhower developed this strategy when he realized he needed a better way to prioritize his tasks while making tough presidential decisions. The matrix helps you compartmentalize tasks by urgency and importance. In other words, it divides your to-do list into smaller lists of four.

You can use this tool and schedule your week according to what’s most important to you and what will have the most meaningful results.

Prioritize importance over urgency

Here’s the matrix, taken from a book Covey co-authored later, titled “First Things First.”


The two main criteria are urgent and important. While urgent activities require immediate attention, important activities contribute to your mission, values, and goals. You want to focus most of your energy on activities that are important but non-urgent — a.k.a the activities that fall in Quadrant II.

According to Covey, Quadrant II includes relationship-building, recognizing new opportunities, planning, and prevention.

You’ll want to stay out of Quadrant I, which is filled primarily with crises; Quadrant III, which includes interruptions and unnecessary meetings; and Quadrant IV, which includes busy work and time wasters.

It sounds simple enough, but the problem is that we’re far more likely to deal with urgent activities, regardless of importance, because we can see them right in front of our faces. Think an email coming in, a phone ringing, or a coworker barging into your cubicle.

Covey writes: “Urgent matters are usually visible. They press on us; they insist on action. They’re often popular with others. They’re usually right in front of us. And often they are pleasant, easy, fun to do. But so often they are unimportant.”

Quadrant II activities, …read more

Source:: Business Insider


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