Eisenhower Matrix: Efficient time management


Now seems like there are so many time management techniques, but each one has its own advantages and disadvantages. Let’s see if the Eisenhower Matrix is the right technique for you.

1. Formation of Eisenhower Matrix:

The Matrix is known in an article interviewing Dwight D. Eisenhower, a man who has held many important positions in the world. He was praised by organizations for his work efficiency, time management to balance work, family and golf hobbies.

He served as Allied Forces Commander during World War II, and was responsible for planning and battlefield engagement in North Africa, France, and Germany.

In 1948, Eisenhower became President of Columbia University, a private university in New York. In December 1950, he left his job as the university president when he became Supreme Commander of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), and was assigned to NATO Forces Europe Command. Eisenhower was discharged on May 31, 1952, and resume his position in the university which he continued to hold until January 1953.

Eisenhower then became the 34th President of the United States for two consecutive terms (1953-1961).

2. How to use the Eisenhower matrix

Applying Eisenhower matrix to your work in the company means listing tasks into 4 respective quadrants:


Applying Eisenhower matrix

First Quadrant: Important but Not Urgent Set deadlines for yourself.

  • E.g. A long-term project without deadlines from your superior. In order to achieve optimal efficiency, set yourself deadlines. It’s easier to remember getting a single project done, while a dozen of them just interfere with other tasks.

Second Quadrant: Important and Urgent: complete immediately.

Prioritize by difficulties and timelines when having multiple tasks or projects on hand. Frequently report your progress to your superior and note which tasks cannot be completed.

  • E.g. The customer requests to shorten the schedule of an ongoing project.

Third Quadrant: Neither Important nor Urgent: Ignore when there is no time

  • E.g. Other department call on a meeting, only the results are important. In which case you can just ask for a meeting summary.

Fourth Quadrant: Not Important but Urgent Can be delegated to competent associates if possible.

  • E.g. Resolving customer complaints under authority.

3. Advantages and disadvantages of the Eisenhower matrix


Quickly making decisions and modifications

Easy to use for individuals

This technique can apply to any profession


Not optimal when used with a group, can cause confusion

Planning for larger, longer-term projects will reduce accuracy

Only intended for short-term work items

4. Common cases of time management failure:

When a subordinate is assigned a task by a superior that is outside the scope of usual tasks (not listed as part of the jobs duties described when assigning responsibilities), how will he or she normally react?

  1. Do it with enthusiasm
  2. Accept but not excited
  3. Ask another colleague to take on the task instead
  4. Outright refuse

Putting all external influences aside, in reality, all 4 answers might be correct in a corporate environment. Most of the employees will be categorized into option 1 or 1 and 2, i.e. accepting the task with enthusiasm but then will pass on to another working peer

  • Doing it right will let you know which task you should accept and which one you shouldn’t. Taking everything onto your plate is always stressful while having low productivity. “It’s unfair that even though I worked the hardest, first one in, last one out, I wasn’t selected to be the best employee.”