This matrix is called the Eisenhower Matrix or the Urgent/Important matrix. This matrix is especially useful for leaders who:

  • Spends much of the working day putting out fires (figuratively speaking)
  • Are busy but do not feel that their work has a big impact
  • Have long-term goals but no time or energy to make progress with them
  • Have difficulty delegating and / or saying no

”I have two kinds of problems,
the urgent and the important.

The urgent are not important,
and the important are never urgent.” Eisenhower, 1954

1. DO - Urgent and Important

This quadrant is where everything that has an imminent deadline, "crises and musts", and putting out daily fires ends up.

Everything you really both should and should do NOW to reach your goals.


  • Handle a Customer Complaint
  • Need to complete a customer project for a colleague who is ill
  • Reply to important emails.

Or, as an example from the private side: Pick up a sick child from school.

You are working "IN" the business...

2. DECIDE - Important but Not Urgent

This quadrant contains tasks that you plan to do when they REALLY need to be done, not to have to hurry.

Unfortunately, these tasks are pretty easy to put off. But if you plan and carry out these tasks in time, the tasks that previously ended up in quadrant one will automatically be fewer.


  • Preparations
  • Strategic planning, such as goal and vision work, culture-bearing activities
  • Communication activities, i.e. conveying strategies, vision, goals
  • Competence development
  • Networking
  • And on the private side: training

You are working ”ON” the business instead of ”IN” the business".

3. DELEGATE - Urgent but Not Important

Here, too, there are many operative fires to put out. A complex quadrant because it is all about for whom the task is important or unimportant. One thing that is not important to you may be important to someone in your team or another colleague.

It is all about the right person doing the right things, so delegation and sorting out and clarifying who is responsible for different tasks is the solution if you have lots of activities in this box.


  • To be interrupted at work by an employee
  • Reply by phone or email as soon as it arrives in your inbox
  • Operational meetings to solve other people's problems in the business

And my own example from the past:

  • Fill in endless Excel spreadsheets because my boss wanted to "keep track of the situation".

You are working "IN" the business...

4. DELETE - Not Important and Not Urgent

This quadrant is where everything you waste time on during the working day ends up. These are activities that only make you active, busy and possibly stressed, but not productive.

In my case, it could be working a little extra - unnecessarily - on the layout of an excel report - or scrolling a little too long on Facebook or LinkedIn.

You already know the solution, and it is to stop wasting your time in this box….

You are neither working ”ON” nor ”IN” the business".