Workplace Hack: Use the Priority Matrix to Make Productive Decisions

Prioritization is key to productivity.

We know multitasking rarely works, so if we want to get through long to-do lists, we need to know where to start and what order to work through them in.

So how do we decide what to do first, what can wait, what we can delegate and what we can get away with not doing at all?

The priority matrix, which balances importance of tasks with urgency, is attributed to President Dwight D. Eisenhower, who once said:

“What is important is seldom urgent and what is urgent is seldom important”

To follow this workplace hack, create a priority matrix like the one shown above from entrepreneur James Clear.

Enter your tasks into the boxes based on urgency and importance. Each task will fit into one of 4 categories:

1. Urgent and important: These are your highest priority tasks, and should be done as soon as possible.

2. Urgent and not important: Although these tasks need to be done quickly, they are not so important. Try delegating these tasks to someone else on your team who has more time.

3. Not urgent but important: Although you don’t need to do these tasks immediately, they still need to get done. These are tasks you should schedule time for to make sure you get around to them later.

4. Not urgent, not important: If you decide a task isn’t urgent or important, why is it on your to-do list in the first place? You may want to remove these tasks from your list for now. If they’re still on your mind later, they’ll make their way back onto your list.

How to do you prioritize your to-do lists? Share your experiences in the comments below.

Image via James Clear