Anyone who runs a business or manages teams will tell you that one of the most important things you can do to make your job (and life) easier is figuring out the best way to manage your time.
It’s far too easy to get sucked into the wrong task and lose an entire day. Similarly, it can be really hard to even get started when you’ve got what looks like a massive to-do list that lacks structure.
That’s why it helps to have a system that helps you both organize the tasks you have to deal with and prioritize them in a way that lets you cross things off your list. The Eisenhower matrix is a classic example of a tool that helps you get things done.
What is the Eisenhower matrix template?
The Eisenhower matrix (also called an urgent-important matrix or Eisenhower box) is a prioritization management tool that helps you organize your tasks based on urgency and importance. The idea is to clearly categorize what you’re working on in a way that makes it obvious where you should start, what you should pass on to others, and which tasks you can remove from your plate completely.
With the Eisenhower matrix, your to-do list is divided up into four quadrants according to how urgent and how important the task is. High urgency, high priority tasks fall into the “do right now” quadrant, while low urgency, low priority tasks tend to fall into the “delete these tasks” quadrant.
The matrix was originally developed by the 34th president of the United States Dwight D. Eisenhower as a way to prioritize the work he needed to accomplish as a politician. The Eisenhower matrix was popularized in the book 7 Habits of Highly Effective People.
The 4 quadrants of the Eisenhower matrix template (with examples)
As mentioned above, the Eisenhower decision matrix helps you segment your tasks into four possible categories: Urgent and important, not urgent, not urgent but important, not important but urgent, and not important and not urgent (see below).
This is the top left corner of the matrix, the tasks that are both urgent and important.
These tasks are the ones that you need to complete in order to run your business. If you’re running a restaurant, this would be tasks like ordering food and planning out your menu, scheduling, and coming up with the daily specials.
Decide (second quadrant)
In the top right, you have the decide box. These are tasks that are important, but not urgent. In your restaurant, it would be coming up with new dishes to add to your menu. They help keep customers coming back, but you don’t need to worry about them all the time.
When a task falls into this quadrant, you get to decide when it’s time to focus on this. Maybe it’s something that you can deal with once a week or once a month, so schedule the best time to get these done.
Delegate (third quadrant)
In the bottom left, we have tasks that are urgent, but not overly important. This would be certain meetings, responding to phone calls, and other timely tasks that you don’t have to be involved with. That’s why these tasks are considered delegate tasks. They need to be done, just not by you. Passing them along will help you focus on the core tasks in quadrant one.
Delete (fourth quadrant)
Finally, there’s the lower right quadrant. This is where tasks that are neither urgent nor important end up. These tasks, as the name suggests, can be removed from your to-do list entirely. In the restaurant, this could be anything from meeting with potential new suppliers when you’re happy with the current one to testing which dish soap cleans better. These are things you could do, but if there’s no pressing need (like say your current dish soap does exactly what you need it to, clean dishes), then you probably don’t need to spend the time on it and neither does anyone else.
6 benefits of the Eisenhower matrix template for project management
An Eisenhower matrix template gives you an easy-to-use tool for prioritizing your tasks in a way that helps you focus on the most important work, without getting overwhelmed by the smaller tasks. The matrix itself is easy to use, but with a template you get a repeatable, customized approach to classifying tasks in a way that suits you, your business, and your staff.
1. Easier personal and professional task prioritization
There is nothing quite like a well organized to-do list that gives you the power to focus on important tasks first. It’s too easy to put a whole bunch of tasks on both personal and professional to-do lists that are easy to complete, but don’t actually help complete the work that needs to be done. That’s where the matrix comes in. You get a clear picture of what’s actually important and what’s just busy work.
2. Organized workflow
Right up there with prioritization is a smooth workflow. When you know what all the mission critical tasks are on your to-do list, you don’t have to stop and think about the next thing you need to do. With a standard list, you lose time whenever you has to stop and think about what you should do next. An Eisenhower matrix eliminates that by showing you the priority of each task. You can effortlessly move from task to task without interrupting that flow.
3. Better time management
Any time you can improve your time management skills, you should. The less time you lose with things like picking tasks, the more likely you are to stay on top of everything that’s truly important to you and your business. This means not wasting your efforts on tasks that simply don’t matter (like the ones in the delete column) or even tasks that can be passed along. The Eisenhower matrix helps you better understand what tasks deserve your attention.
4. Reduced procrastination
Picking a starting point can be one of those simple tasks that people can’t help but put off. This usually happens because you can’t figure out which task is the most important one at any given moment. The Eisenhower matrix eliminates the need to think about it by showing you the tasks that are most important and more urgent. You may still procrastinate, but you’ll be less likely to drag your feet when it’s time to choose that first task.
), making decisions can be tricky. The Eisenhower matrix is a great tool for not only helping you decide which tasks you should be focusing on, but also which tasks you can pass on to others or simply cut out of your life entirely. Without seeing tasks ranked in the matrix, you can be tempted to just take care of everything because they all seem important. The Eisenhower matrix removes that temptation by showing you how important each task actually is, giving you the power to make easier decisions about everything.
6. Stronger focus
Without a doubt, it is easier to focus on work when you know you’re doing tasks that actually matter. Not feeling like you’re working on things that don’t matter can really help you get into the zone the same way that not having to think about what the next task is. You can put all your energy into getting the important things done, plan a time for the next set of tasks, delegate the things you don’t need to worry about, and delete the rest. That final step, deleting, can be a powerful motivator on its own.
👉 Get started with this Eisenhower matrix template.
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How to use the Eisenhower matrix template from Coda
page, you’ll see the main Eisenhower matrix with the four quadrants. Click on the Add an Item button to add an item or task to the matrix. By default, the item will be classified as “Urgent” and “Important.” You can reclassify the task by clicking on the dropdowns in the pop-up that shows up when you first click the button.
Step 2: Mark items complete
Next to each item, you’ll see a green checkmark button. Click this when the item or task is done, and you’ll see that task disappear from the matrix.
list isn’t cutting it (or worse, you’re using an excel template to manage your tasks). Having a template gives you a repeatable process that lets you weigh tasks consistently in your business or personal life. A good template also helps you customize the prioritization of tasks in the way that best suits you, your business, and your project team members.
Who should use an Eisenhower matrix template?
Eisenhower matrix templates are great for anyone who struggles with prioritizing their time. These free templates were designed as a tool to help manage professional activities, but it can also be a highly effective method for organizing your personal life. There really is no limit to who can use this matrix to manage their time.
What are some of the Eisenhower matrix template disadvantages?
As good as it can be, the Eisenhower matrix isn’t perfect. For starters, it can be hard to properly classify tasks. Some tasks can be really important for your business, but if they’re not urgent, you risk pushing them off till another time, which can add stress down the road. They’re also not super ideal if you work in an environment that changes constantly because they rely on tasks maintaining the same level of urgency and importance. You also risk dropping all the seemingly unimportant tasks (ones that aren’t important or urgent) because they don’t rank high enough on the grid.
Surprisingly, the Eisenhower decision matrix can also get overwhelming if it’s something you end up working on every day. As new tasks are added (especially urgent tasks), you need to reassess the priorities of existing tasks, meaning you can endlessly fiddle with priorities if you’re not careful.
Coda is an all-in-one doc for your team’s unique processes — the rituals that help you succeed. Teams that use Coda get rid of hundreds of documents, spreadsheets, and even bespoke apps, to work quickly and clearly in one place. This template is a Coda doc. Click around to explore.