Productivity, the Eisenhower Way


For as long as I can remember, I’ve been searching for a way to consistently and successfully use to-do lists for both my personal and work tasks, without the kind of obsessing over categorisation and prioritisation that ultimately kills my productivity. That search may be over.

Over the weekend, I stumbled across an app on the Play Store called Ike — the nickname for former U.S Army General and President of the United States Dwight D. Eisenhower — which uses the so-called “Eisenhower Matrix” to provide a really simple yet effective framework for categorisation and prioritisation of tasks.

The Eisenhower Matrix (EM) is a term that was coined to describe the system that many believe was instrumental in Eisenhower being one of the most productive military and political figures of the early twentieth century.

The beauty of the EM is in making a clear distinction between things that are urgent, and things that are important; specifically, important in the context of your Work/Life goals. Something that is urgent, and therefore time sensitive, isn’t necessarily always of huge importance.

So, taking this on board, the EM/Ike has the following list of categorisation/prioritisation options built-in:

  1. Urgent, and Important – “Focus”
  2. Important, but Not Urgent – “Goals”
  3. Urgent, but Not Important – “Fit In”
  4. Not Urgent, and Not Important – “Backburner”

Now, from what I understand, the original EM would classify Fit In as tasks worth delegating, and Backburner as tasks that can essentially be deleted/shelved, so that is worth bearing in mind.

The simplicitly of the system is hugely appealing, so I’m going to start using Ike for real from the coming weekend onwards, first starting with general Life tasks, with a view to applying this to Work tasks after a couple of weeks.

I am deeply curious to see whether I can build up a head of steam with this app. Consistency over a long period of time with a productivity tool/framework like this is hard to achieve for most people (as are all habits), but for me? Practically impossible.

Either way, as a huge WW2 history enthusiast I have to say that naming a productivity app after a prominent figure from that period is a pretty good start. Consider my attention grabbed, Plucky Product Marketer!

For further reading on the EM, try Introducing the Eisenhower Matrix and How to be More Productive and Eliminate Time Wasting Activities by Using the “Eisenhower Box”. For a knowledge hit on the man himself, Wikipedia is your friend.

Why not have a look at Ike for yourself?