It's Monday morning. You arrive at the office haggard from rush hour traffic and puffy from too much partying (wishful thinking?), and you're faced with a dozen fires that need putting out. If you're the typical worker, you'll start with the most immediate fire being shoved in your face the minute you get to your desk. But that isn't ideal. There's a smarter way to determine priority, and it involves a tool invented more than 50 years ago by the 34th president of the United States: Dwight D. Eisenhower.

What is an Eisenhower Decision Matrix?

The tool is called an Eisenhower Decision Matrix, AKA a time management matrix or Eisenhower Box. It is basically a way to chart all your to-do items onto four quadrants: [1] important and urgent, [2] important but not urgent, [3] urgent but not important, [4] not urgent and not important.

This method forces you to identify the most needed actions, and can therefore help you with time management. The ideal is to spend your time on putting out the fires in quadrant 1 (important and urgent), and spending any remaining time improving yourself in quadrant 2 (important but not urgent). Everything else can be delegated or deferred.

How Do You Place Wrike Tasks Into an Eisenhower Decision Matrix?

If all your work is already in Wrike, then it's simply a matter of creating four folders and a dashboard. Here's how. (And if you're not yet using Wrike, now is the time for a free trial.)

1. Create Folders for Each of the Four Quadrants

Pick a private folder that only you can access (this way you won't confuse your coworkers with your quadrants). Create four folders and name them for each quadrant. I personally suggest you keep the character count low as these quadrant names will appear after a task title. And include numbers before them so they're arranged in order in your folder list and you're never confused about which should be done first (always choose #1!). Name your folders:

  • 01 Impt-Ugt
  • 02 Impt-Not Ugt
  • 03 Not Impt-Ugt
  • 04 Not Impt-Not Ugt

2. Create Custom Dashboard Widgets from Each Quadrant

Now, you can build custom widgets for a whole new dashboard:

  • Go to your Dashboard view. Click the + icon to add a new dashboard and name it "Matrix"
  • Now go to your folder "01 Impt-Ugt" and click the 3-dot menu at the top right. Choose "Add to Dashboard" > "Matrix"
  • Repeat for the remaining 3 quadrants
  • Go back to your Dashboard view. Click on your "Matrix" Dashboard. Now you can click on the top of each widget and drag them into the correct order. You can keep them as real quadrants, or elongate them into four columns if your lists are long.
  • Now you can drag and drop individual tasks between quadrants in case their priority ever changes.

Voila. All done! 

Are You Ready to Enter the Matrix?

Some people swear by the four quadrants of the Eisenhower Decision Matrix as a tool for prioritizing the numerous tasks we tackle every day. And why not? It clearly marks those items that can be put off as well as those that need to be done right away. It perfectly embodies Stephen Covey's idea of doing First Things First, giving priority to those things in your life and work that are most urgent.