Eisenhower’s matrix (Yes, yes, the Eisenhower hero of the second world war and president of the United States) is a technique of management popularized by the famous Stephen Covey in his book “The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People” to prioritize tasks. It is based on the ideas of Dwight Eisenhower who maintained that we have to organize our task list depending on the task’s importance and urgency, and stop the trend that we have to focus in tasks that are important and urgent at the same time (“Firefighter” mode). Instead, we should concentrate on what is really important and not so urgent (promoting strategic thinking)
The importance of a task is the value of the level of impact that its completion must have to reach a relevant objective. One task which is essential to achieve an objective is going to be of high priority, while another task which doesn’t have any impact on any aspect in relation to the completion of an objective (time, cost, materials, people) is going to have little or no relevance.
The management is very simple:
Having too many tasks in the first quadrant is an indication of crisis or (Fire) because we have lots to do now. One way to ease this weight is to take some tasks of the utmost importance and delegate the rest (we don’t want to disagree if the urgency is real), feeding the third quadrant. Doing so keeps those tasks from distracting our focus on the here and now. Another way is concentrating on what requires immediate attention (next few minutes) and deferring the rest until we can plan again, feeding the second quadrant.
An indicator of health when there is a lot to do it would be to see most of the tasks in the second quadrant, which shows that there is a management planned and conscious which lets us manage times and resources. Eventually with the passing of time it would be understandable that some of these tasks transform into urgent and are moved to the first quadrant.
Finally, this dynamic of maintaining the first, second and third quadrants generates naturally that everything that is inconsequential is moved to the fourth quadrant until it deserves attention.