Dwight David Eisenhower, the 34th President of the United States of America, is said to have once said "What is important is rarely urgent and what is urgent is rarely important".
The Priority Square, or Eisenhower Matrix, is a tool for methodically classifying priorities and assessing urgency. It can be a valuable aid in any field, to anyone who feels overwhelmed by a multitude of things to do, it helps to focus on the importance and therefore to prioritise importance over urgency, to prioritise tasks.
PUTTING IT INTO PRACTICE
The matrix is represented by a double-entry table. The principle of the matrix is to evaluate each of your tasks and position them on the matrix:
- On the horizontal axis: IMPORTANCE
The importance of each task is based on the impact it has on your objectives, and on the added value that its’ completion brings.
Important : Activities related to the function's raison d'être. Where you have a high added value.
Not Important: Activities that are more secondary (low added value) but necessary for the achievement of your mission: e.g. tidying up your office, monitoring what is happening in the company, self-training to go further in the use of the tools at your disposal.
- On the vertical axis: URGENCY
The urgency of each task is based on both the time required to complete it and its due date.
Urgent: Very short time frame - to be associated with important to decide priority.
Not Urgent: Longer time frame - to be planned.
- I/U Important / Urgent: Tasks that you need to do yourself and as a priority.
- I/nu Important / Non-urgent: Tasks to be planned.
- ni/U Non-important / Urgent: It is possible to wait or delegate these tasks.
- ni/nu Not Important / Not Urgent: Tasks to be delegated or eliminated.