Personal Growth

You Can Use the Eisenhower Method to Stop Wasting Time and Be More Productive

As far as the most demanding day jobs go, being a U.S. President is probably going to sit pretty high on the list. Number 34, Dwight Eisenhower, was no exception. The next time you struggle to even drag your butt to the gym, remember that this dude somehow found time to golf and oil paint outside of laying down systems that lead to the launch of the Interstate Highway System, the internet, and NASA. His method to tackle it all starts with a four-square box.

Related Video: 6 Productivity Hacks to Help You Get Things Done

Be Like Ike

The Eisenhower box is the most famous decision-making tool used by the late president, according to author and success blogger James Clear. This method is a matrix: just two columns and two rows. The columns represent tasks that are urgent and not urgent, and the rows represent tasks that are important and not important. Deciding which tasks are important and urgent, or some combination of the four options, will inform the action you should take with it. The matrix will tell you what to do from there:

  1. Important and urgent: Do this stuff immediately. Hop to!
  2. Important and not urgent: Schedule a time to definitely get to this, just not right now.
  3. Not important and urgent: Delegate this task, if you can. Anyone out there want to lend a hand?
  4. Not important and not urgent: Why is this task even on your mind?! C'mon. Drop it and move onto bigger things.

Clear notes that he likes this matrix for its versatility: You can apply it to long-term tasks, or for the stuff you're trying to get through in a single day. Bottom line: This is just a way to put your to-dos in an order that won't eat up all your time.

The Sorting Box

Dwight Eisenhower once said, "What is important is seldom urgent and what is urgent is seldom important." You tell 'em, Ike. Tackling the items in each sector of the Eisenhower Box is one thing, but sorting it out is another.

Think of urgent tasks as ones you feel like you need to respond to: texts, emails, work deadlines, etc. Think of the important tasks as the ones that mean something to you and are really going to further your goals: calling your friends and family, doing research, enjoying your hobbies, etc.

Even if some of the boxes are tough to sort out, at least pay special attention to your "not important and not urgent" box. As long as it's not empty, that means you've cut out some unnecessary tasks, so you're winning already! Go you.

"I find that the Eisenhower Method is particularly useful because it pushes me to question whether an action is really necessary," Clear writes, "which means I'm more likely to move tasks to the 'Delete' quadrant rather than mindlessly repeating them."

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Written by Joanie Faletto September 20, 2017

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