Urgent Important matrix

a To-do list efficiency tool

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What is Urgent Important matrix

Urgent Important Matrix is a decision matrix. We can use it for efficient prioritization of the activities that we have noted in the To-do general list. Considering the importance and urgency of the things to be done, the matrix helps us to properly establish what actions we should apply to the tasks. This way we will focus on developing an efficient way of working with much-improved results.

Who created Urgent Important matrix

Urgent Important matrix is also known as the Eisenhower matrix, because the idea for this matrix came from Dwight D. Eisenhower (October 14, 1890 - March 28-1969). During a speech on August 19, 1954, he quoted a colleague as saying:

I have two kinds of problems, the urgent and the important. The urgent are not important, and the important are never urgent.

Mention should be made of Dwight D. Eisenhower's extraordinary experience in planning and time management. He was the 34th president of the United States (1953-1961) and the five-star general in the American army, among others responsible for planning and supervising the successful invasion of Normandy 1944–45 from the Western Front.

This quote was later taken up and processed by Stephen R. Covey (October 24, 1932 - July 16, 2012). In his book The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, he also states that for effective prioritization you must "Put First Things First".

Putting first things first means organizing and executing around your most important priorities. It is living and being driven by the principles you value most, not by the agendas and forces surrounding you.

Why use the Urgent Important matrix

If we create a general To-do and randomly perform the listed activities, we may end up in unpleasant situations. For example, it is possible to deal for the first time with certain activities that do not help us in any way to approach the set goals. Later, when we get to work on the tasks that would have helped us in this regard, we will discover that we no longer have the necessary time or simply that we no longer have the necessary energy because we consumed it with what we did before.

Prioritizing tasks based on the principles of Urgent Important Matrix helps us to avoid precisely this kind of situation, and to work exactly when and on what we need.

Which are the basic principles of the Urgent Important matrix

Urgent Important matrix, as the name suggests, is based on setting priorities based on the importance and urgency of the items in the To-do list. The important ones are those that lead us to fulfill the established goals and the urgent ones are those that can have undesired repercussions if they are not performed at the right time.

Considering this, the types of activities that emerge from the combination of the two characteristics that are considered are:

  • Important and Urgent
  • Important but Not urgent
  • Not important but Urgent
  • Not important, Not Urgent

How to apply Urgent Important matrix

For the successful application of the Urgent Important matrix, the following path can be followed:

  • Preferably the night before the To-do list is established for the next day. It is advisable to prepare the list in advance just to improve productivity. This avoids wasting time in the early hours of the morning to organize and plan the day
  • Determine the time required to perform each activity.
  • Each activity is analyzed and is included in the Urgent Important matrix in the quadrant related to the category to which belongs.
  • Plan the time intervals for each activity.
  • Start the next day with the most important activity.
  • Avoid distractions as much as possible and keep the focus on compliance with the plans made

Benefits of Urgent Important matrix

Apart from what is obvious, namely the fact that it helps us to organize and prioritize our tasks better, the use of Urgent Important matrix brings us some important benefits. One of them is the fact that in time we get used to making decisions faster. We also become much more objective in analyzing the activities we must do. Another thing that improves is the accuracy with which we estimate the time we need to carry out certain tasks.

All this together contributes to a remarkable improvement in our time-management skills.