time management - the ironhower principle Image©Nebojsa93 - iStockphoto

Time management: The Eisenhower principle

First things first. It's a widely accepted maxim. However, the implementation of this idea causes problems for many people every day. Because it often happens that you get bogged down in too many simultaneously viewed issues and get caught up in unimportant and hardly urgent to-dos. One falls into the so-called Emergency case. The Eisenhower principle (also called Eisenhower method or Eisenhower matrix) should prevent exactly that.

Because the challenge is often to focus on the essentials and not to be distracted by irrelevancies. If you succeed in this, you can free yourself from unnecessary stress and at the same time create more time for the things that really matter. This method is the approach, to separate important and urgent from unimportant and non-urgent tasks.


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Despite the simplicity of this method, it can be enormously helpful in setting priorities better, optimising one's own time management and achieving goals as stress-free and faster as possible. Because "No time!" does not exist, there are only other priorities.

Structuring of tasks using the Eisenhower principle

The basic idea of the Eisenhower principle is a targeted categorisation of tasks. The division into four areas is intended to simplify the decision as to what to do next. This categorization is based on two parameters:

The importance of a task: A task is considered important if it is directly linked to a goal to be achieved. A task that does not bring you closer to any of your goals is considered unimportant.

The urgency of a task: Urgent tasks require your immediate attention in order to meet an important deadline or to achieve an important goal or solve a serious problem. If (in the near future) it does not matter when you complete the task, the task is not urgent.

Using these two parameters, tasks can be divided into four quadrants:

The Eisenhower Matrix

eisenhower principle

You should handle the categorized tasks as follows:

Important and urgent: These tasks are of the highest value. They often involve sudden problems that need to be solved as quickly as possible, or to-do's of important time-critical projects. In most cases it makes little sense to delegate such tasks. However, there should not be too many tasks of this category, because this would mean an increased stress level.

Important, but not urgent: Since these tasks are also important for achieving your goals, you should not neglect them, despite the lack of time pressure. Examples are: Further education, health, time with family and friends, hobbies. It is also advisable, although there is no short-term time pressure, to set deadlines for these tasks.

Urgent, but not important: These tasks should be completed in a timely manner. However, it is often not necessary for you to take care of the completion yourself. It is therefore advisable to delegate tasks in this quadrant if possible. For routine tasks that you have to do yourself, you should schedule your least efficient times for this. For example, just before you leave work.

Neither important nor urgent: Tasks that don't get you closer to your goals, and where it doesn't matter when they are completed, have the least value. In many cases you can leave these tasks unfinished and ignore them. Often you will also get yourself done in time.

Equally helpful, besides the Eisenhower principle, is the Pareto Principle and the Pomodoro technique.

Applying the Eisenhower principle with an app


Get yourself with Todoist have an overview of everything that is pending and never lose sight of important tasks. Organize and prioritize your tasks and projects so that you always know exactly what to work on next.

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To Do helps you to tick off all your personal and professional tasks. Set due dates and reminders and delegate tasks.

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With the boards, lists and maps of Trello you can organize and prioritize your projects in a flexible and rewarding way.

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Price: Free