How The Eisenhower Matrix And Outlook Can Make You More Productive

General Dwight D. Eisenhower gives the order of the Day You may have heard some variation of Pres. Dwight Eisenhower's productivity matrix: "What is important is seldom urgent, and what is urgent is seldom important." Who knows if he actually said that, but also, who cares? It's a good saying, and it can work well if you're struggling to get a handle on your tasks and time.

Here it is illustrated (credit: Business Insider):



My Outlook task list at the beginning of every day is usually about 7-8 hours long, and that's before things start getting added to it. If I'm going to avoid a 10-hour day, or at least try to prevent it, I have to be diligent about prioritizing those tasks.

Recently, I applied Eisenhower's productivity matrix to my task list. Almost immediately it made things easier, because there was suddenly no debating what needed to be handled in what order. I go about my day by tackling the urgent/important stuff first, the not-urgent/important stuff next, and then pushing everything else to another time or another person. (Note: I still organize tasks by client; this just acts as a second layer.)

This works perfectly with Outlook's task manager, because I can hide everything but what's urgent/important, or not-urgent/important, etc.:


Besides helping me maintain productivity, this has also cut out a lot of stress. It's such a relief sometimes to look at a task list 20 items long and be able to go, "OK, this can be done tomorrow; this can be delegated; this doesn't need action till next week...." The Eisenhower matrix can whittle that 20-item list down to the 5-7 most important things in a hurry.

Photo source: Flickr