Words By Tara Wagner

How to Prioritize Your Life and Biz Using the Eisenhower Matrix (with 46 Examples)

neon sign that says time is precious

Figuring out how to organize your life and your business comes down to careful clarity on what the task actually is that you’re facing, careful decision-making on how to spend your time, and very carefully protecting your boundaries. But actually learning all of that can be made a lot easier when you understand the Eisenhower Matrix

Let me show you how cool this thing is though, and give you some examples of what goes in each quadrant. 

Watch here or read on below.

How to Prioritize Your Life and Biz Using the Eisenhower Matrix (with # Examples) Click To Tweet

First of all, let me give you a little bit of background on this so you understand just how helpful it is. This was created by the five-star General, Supreme commander, and former President Dwight D. Eisenhower. To say that the man was busy, to say that he had a lot of decisions to make, or a lot of distractions is kind of an understatement.

It was then popularized by Stephen Covey’s book, The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People back in 1989. And it has been used again and again, in so many different scenarios. Once you understand how to use it, it’s going to change the way you look at things coming into your life and really help you make better decisions about how to prioritize them. 

Quadrant 1 – Important and Urgent

Quadrant one of the Eisenhower Matrix is your important and urgent quadrant.

So I want you to think about these things as being small crises. These could be emergencies, things that demand your immediate attention. 

Some more examples of things that belong in the quadrant could be: 

  • Impending deadlines 
  • Your website crashing right in the middle of a sales rush 
  • Accidents or injuries 
  • Some client or customer management, but not all 
  • Broken technology that needs to be fixed right away so that other things can be working 
  • Picking up a sick kid from school 
  • Sending invoices
  • Last minite preparations
  • Team member quitting
  • Unforseen emergencies
  • Expiring memberships

These are your highest priority tasks, activities, things that you need to take care of. These are the things that when they come up, you need to drop everything and do them. 

Tara writing in planner
Quadrant 2 – Important But Not Urgent

Quadrant two of the Eisenhower Matrix is your important, but not urgent stuff.

This is the stuff like long-term projects, long-term goals, or what I like to refer to as your “Big Rocks” are really important things, but things that are really easy to reschedule, to put on the back burner or otherwise put off while you are dealing with something else in these other quadrants that are pulling your distraction away from what is most important.

This is also going to be your deep work, your income-producing activities and it’s generally things that only you can do. These are things that you’re not going to be able to outsource. 

So some examples of what belongs in quadrant two could be: 

  • Working on long-term projects
  • Doing strategic planning
  • Personal or professional development, so skill development self-care, taking good care of your health, your body 
  • Some content creation can belong here
  • Networking
  • Financial management could belong in here 
  • Creating some automations
  • Training other people 
  • Creating preventative systems
  • Spending time with your family
  • Brainstorming
  • Household chores

This quadrant is your highest priority. It is the most important. And what you want to do with it is make sure you schedule the things that belong in this quadrant and protect them fiercely.

It’s also important to realize that the more time you spend in quadrant two, the less time you’re going to spend in quadrant one, putting out small fires.

So for example, if you’re taking good care of your health, you’re less likely to get sick. If you’re doing proper planning, you don’t have last-minute deadlines that pop up out of nowhere. If you’re doing proper testing, you don’t have things breaking and you need to stop everything and fix those things. So the more time you can allocate to this quadrant, to doing this type of deep work, slow, methodical work, even less time you’re going to be dealing with a crisis, dealing with emergencies, putting out fires, and ultimately just feeling like a stressed-out hot mess.

Comment below and let me know what is the most important thing in your quadrant two that you would love to make more time for. 

Woman working on laptop with tea
Quadrant 3 – Urgent But Not Important

Eisenhower Matrix Quadrant three is what we call the urgent, but not important stuff, which can kind of sound like an oxymoron until you really start to understand what belongs in this quadrant.

The stuff in quadrant three can be so easy to get caught up in. It can be so easy to spend too much time in and take your time away from those quadrant two activities. That’s also stuff that might need to be done, but it doesn’t necessarily have to be done by you. 

Some examples of what belongs in quadrant three of the Eisenhower Matrix include: 

  • Some email management
  • Some phone calls
  • Scheduling
  • Social media
  • Some content creation
  • Scheduling or uploading that content 
  • Data entry
  • Editing and proofing and so on 
  • Meal prep
  • Creating SOPs (Standard Operating Procedures)
  • Onboarding/offboarding staff or clients
  • Booking travel

Quadrant three activities are generally low-priority activities. And the way you want to handle these is to delegate them or outsource them. You want to train somebody using that quadrant 2 time to be able to take care of these things for you so that you can get them off your plate for good. 

When it comes to delegating, do you struggle to let go of the tasks that somebody else could be doing, or do you just struggle to find and afford somebody to do them for you?

Quadrant 4 – Not Important, Not Urgent

And then we come to the Eisenhower Matrix quadrant four in the Eisenhower matrix. This is your not important, not urgent stuff.

This is your time-wasters, your distractions. The things that take a lot of time from us, but add absolutely no value to our life or our business, or maybe very, very little. These are also things that are productive, obviously, but they can also leave us feeling worse after we do them, instead of better. 

Tara scrolling through her phone

Some examples of what goes in quadrant four include: 

  • Scrolling through social media with no real intention or purpose
  • Excessive television
  • Staying up too late
  • Some types of research
  • Stalking the competition and comparing yourself to other people 
  • Some emails
  • Endlessly tweaking shit, and other examples of ways that you waste your time 
  • Games
  • Excessive online shopping
  • Meeting with no agenda
  • Gossip

I would encourage you to drop some examples in the comments below. 

Quadrant four is not a priority at all. And the way you handle these things is to do whatever you can do to limit, eliminate, or otherwise minimize these distractions.

Now, this doesn’t mean that you can’t watch television, or you can’t enjoy games on your phone, or you can’t enjoy social media. It just means that you want to make sure that you’re prioritizing the most important things first and using these things in a healthy way to help you relax or to help you connect with other people and not in a mindless way. That’s just draining your time and energy. 


So I have some homework for you on this. Are you ready for the challenge?

I want to encourage you to get a piece of paper, draw out these quadrants for yourself, and then look over the tasks that you’ve completed over the past week and plop them in each of these quadrants. And then ask yourself how much time, what’s the percentage of time that I’m spending in each quadrant and what are some changes I can start to make?

Now I want you to know when you first do this, it’s going to be eye-opening, a little uncomfortable, and you might kind of feel like crap. That’s okay.

This is just your baseline.

This is just to show you where you’re starting from and give you some ideas of how you can start to prioritize, move things around and spend your time in the quadrants that you most want to be in. 

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What about you, boss lady?


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Tara Wagner

Tara Wagner

I’m Tara Wagner, creator of the Breakthrough Boss®. I help small biz owners overcome burnout and create part-time schedules with full-time profits. Not with some new marketing strategy, but with a holistic approach to how you operate. Click here to learn more.
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