The Urgent Important Principle Matrix

Darryl Bachmeier
Jun 8, 2019

Urgent and important, both of these words may seem similar but they’re quite different in meaning. An important task is something that can provide long-term results. But important does not always mean that you have to attend to that certain task right away. But urgent means that you have to tend to that task immediately.

When you have multiple matters to attend to, it’s easy to get them mixed up. You may end up forgetting about a more pressing matter because you were busy doing something else. Whether it’s in the workplace or your daily life, prioritizing tasks depending on their importance is extremely important. The Urgent Important matrix can come in handy in this very particular scenario.

What is the Urgent Important Principle Matrix?

The Urgent Important principle matrix is a tool that can help you prioritize your task list depending on their level of importance. The matrix is also known as the Eisenhower Matrix.

This matrix is designed by Dwight D. Eisenhower, who was the 34th president of the United States in 1953. Eisenhower excelled at juggling his tasks based on their urgency. This helped him achieve so much in very little time. Eisenhower said, “What is important is seldom urgent and what is urgent is seldom important”. This is the key reference that led him to design the Eisenhower matrix.

It is a good time management technique for getting your work done. The matrix concentrates on progressive or severe prioritization. This basic paradigm helps to transfer your thinking to strategic planning which leads to success in the long run.

The Urgent Important Principle Matrix

The matrix is divided into 4 different quadrants or sections. You organize the tasks based on their urgency and importance and then decide how to deal with them. Each section is explained in detail below:

Quadrant/Section 1

In this section, you list tasks that are both urgent and important. These tasks have strict deadlines that you cannot miss and do otherwise can have dire effects. This section is also known as the ‘crisis’ section.

You cannot avoid or stall the tasks from this quadrant. It can be an assignment or any of the pending bills. You need to deal with these tasks with a high level of urgency.

Quadrant/Section 2

Tasks in this section are not urgent, but they are important. These tasks do not come with strict deadlines that you absolutely have to stick to. But they are important nonetheless, and you should carry them out whenever you have a little spare time.

Most of the tasks in this section are related to personal goals and relationships. It can be a date night, or a picnic you promised your kids weeks ago. These tasks are more focused on personal achievements and family bonding time.

Quadrant/Section 3

In this quadrant, you list tasks that are urgent, but not important. The tasks associated with this area require your immediate attention, but they do not help you reach any of your long-term goals. These tasks are short-term and distract you from other important tasks.

Quadrant 3 tasks include replying to texts, chatting with co-workers, non-important meetings, etc. Spending too much time with these tasks can be quite demotivating. You would feel like you just wasted a good amount of time that you could’ve spent doing something more productive. So, avoid investing too much of your time in the tasks of this section, and move on to the more important ones.

Quadrant/Section 4

This section is basically the junk section. The 4th quadrant lists tasks that are neither urgent nor important. You should avoid spending any time on these tasks since they are not productive in any way, shape, or form.

Scrolling social media news feeds without a goal, watching mindless television, unnecessary organizing, etc. are some of the examples of tasks that belong in this section. The only way to deal with these tasks is to completely avoid them.

How to Apply the Urgent Important Principle Matrix?

You don’t need special qualifications to use the Eisenhower matrix for organizing your daily tasks. If you’re confused about how to approach it, let us break it down.

  • Make lists of your tasks and write them out. Writing helps you to keep them all in check. This would ensure that you won’t forget to include any important tasks in the matrix.

  • Do not overwhelm yourself with endless amounts of tasks. Try to keep a balance in the sections. It’s not necessary for each quadrant to have the exact same amounts of tasks. But your matrix shouldn’t have a quadrant full of ‘urgent and important’ tasks and an empty section for ‘not urgent but important’ tasks. Try to include around 7-8 tasks in each quadrant.

  • Make your matrix the day before. You can start the day by reviewing the matrix and go through your day by following tasks from each quadrant.

Final Words

An Urgent Important Principle Matrix allows you to easily recognize the work you should do first and also help you avoid the ones that hold no importance. Instead of allowing your work and habits to dominate you, it tests the position of your duties so you can reclaim control of your world and social demands. With this matrix, you can clear out the seemingly important tasks to make time for things that truly matter.

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