One of our most important activities is to decide which task we’re going to tackle next. And unless you’re working with nobody else than yourself, there probably will be lots of interruptions and requests from your co-workers, your boss or clients you have to deal with.

The US President Dwight D. Eisenhower supposedly once said: ‘The most urgent decisions are rarely the most important ones’. He was a real time management master.

So today, we’re looking at what is called the Eisenhower model or matrix, popularized by Stephen Covey. It can help you provide a framework for the stuff that will be heading your way and might give you some direction how to deal with those tasks.

Here it is:

Eisenhower matrix

The orange category is the one you should watch out for. It is really easy to fill your time with requests from others, without making meaningful progress on your most important projects and tasks.

As a leader, it is important to coach your people on this as well. You might be the one giving them urgent (and for you important) tasks. They should be aware of this and remind you about their important things that need to get done as well, so you can figure out together what the balance should be.

The green category is not going to take care of itself. Most likely, no-one is going to remind you of these type of tasks. You need to carve out time in your calendar to work on things that are important.

Hopefully, this matrix can help you figure out your priorities in a new way and help you create more time for the important things that propel you forward.