According to Wikipedia, the US president Dwight Eisenhower one said, “I have two kinds of problems, the urgent and the important. The urgent are not important, and the important are never urgent.” This distinction between urgency and importance has led to a popular time-management principle that is now known as the “Eisenhower matrix”, which lends itself to implementation in Evernote.
The Eisenhower matrix characterizes tasks according to whether they are …
- important or unimportant
- urgent or not urgent
Urgent tasks are those that demand your attention, such as a ringing telephone. However, urgent tasks are not necessarily important. (Many phone calls are not important, for example.)
This gives a total of four combinations as shown in the featured image at the beginning of the post. Steven Covey, who popularized the Eisenhower matrix in his book The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, called the combinations “Quadrants”. Each quadrant has very different consequences for time management.
The four quadrants
- Q1 consists of tasks that are both urgent and important. These cannot be avoided and have to be taken care of as soon as possible. An important customer who is threatening to cancel a valuable contract is an example of a Q1 task.
- Q2 consists of tasks that are important, but not urgent. Personal development, study, recreation and family time belong to this category. Because they are not urgent, they are in danger of being neglected. Therefore, you must be proactively set time aside for them (and then vigorously defend that time against Q3!)
- Q3 contains tasks that are urgent, but not important. These are the tasks that disrupt time management and steal time from Quadrant 2. They do not contribute to your goals and are usually caused by other people. You have to reduce the number of these tasks with a better strategy or by delegating them to others. The main goal of time management with the Eisenhower matrix is to identify and eliminate Q3 tasks in order to create more time for Quadrant 2.
- Q4 contains activities that are neither urgent nor important. You should either delay these tasks until you have free time for them or simply ignore them completely!
Building an Eisenhower matrix with Filterize
Evernote has published a template for the Eisenhower matrix. However, it has the disadvantage that all its entries are static – they have to be modified manually. It would be much more convenient if their contents updated automatically when you add or delete notes that are tagged according to one of the quadrants. Fortunately, Filterize offers exactly this functionality, effectively making the matrix into a type of dashboard.
If you are already a Filterize user, you can download a ready-made script and add the tag
Eisenhower-Matrix to it. Then, every note in your system that has a reminder and any of the tags
P3 will be added to the corresponding box. Filterize adds notes with a reminder but none of these three tags to Quadrant 4 “Do it Later”.
The result might look something like this:
You can also check out this video on our Eisenhower template presented by Enrico Nahler: