How to Implement the Eisenhower Matrix for Effective Task Prioritization [12+ Customizable Templates]

Do you ever look at your task list and want to cry? An endless parade of to-dos, deadlines, meetings, and requests. You get distracted by whatever’s squeaking the loudest and end up scrambling at the last minute to finish important projects. There has to be a better way…

Enter the Eisenhower Matrix. This deceptively simple tool has revolutionized productivity for everyone from presidents to entrepreneurs. So what magic does it contain? And how can we use it to take back control of chaotic schedules? I’ll walk you through everything in this in-depth guide.

We’ll cover:

  • What the Eisenhower Matrix is and why it’s effective
  • Step-by-step instructions for making your own
  • 12+ customizable template options
  • Best practices for teams and individuals
  • Pros, cons, and alternatives

By the end, you’ll have total clarity on which tasks actually move the needle so you can ditch constant reactivity. Let’s get strategic about days filled with meaningful progress!

What is the Eisenhower Matrix?

The Eisenhower Matrix, also called the Urgent-Important Matrix, is a grid system invented by President Dwight D. Eisenhower in the 1950s. As a former WWII General, Eisenhower had to make tough decisions about priorities on a daily basis. He developed this framework to clearly identify which tasks and projects required his immediate attention.

This matrix has stood the test of time because it’s centered on two key questions:

  1. How urgent is this task?
  2. How important is this task?

Take a look:

By rating every to-do item, you can place it into one of four categories:

Quadrant 1: Critical/Do First

  • Urgent + Important tasks
  • Tasks with looming deadlines
  • Customer, teammate, or website emergencies
  • Last minute preparations

Quadrant 2: Strategic Projects

  • Non-urgent but Important long term goals
  • Planning, relationship building, personal development
  • Activities aligned with core priorities

Quadrant 3: Distractions/Defer

  • Urgent interruptions and requests
  • Many emails, meetings if no real relevance

Quadrant 4: Time Wasters/Delete

  • Neither urgent nor important
  • Busywork tasks
  • Excess social media

Now even with a huge list, you can instantly visualize which projects justify top focus and which tasks can wait or be killed.

3 Reasons Why the Eisenhower Matrix Boosts Productivity

Beyond just organizing, what makes the Eisenhower Method so effective?

1. Forces You to Pre-Commit to Priorities

Instead of defaulting to whatever’s loudest, you must predetermine what’s essential for long term success. This head start makes it easier to avoid distraction and focus effort.

2. Creates Accountability

By constantly re-evaluating tasks in terms of importance and urgency, you’re held accountable. Actively keeping to-do’s in the right category is honest work.

3. Gives Permission to Ignore or Delegate

Knowing certain tasks are distracting time wasters allows guilt-free elimination or delegation. You don’t have to do everything.

Research by productivity expert Ezra Klein backs this up:

“Those who used the Eisenhower Decision Matrix reported a 15 percent increase in the number of tasks marked complete by the end this period. Additionally, 72 percent of respondents said they felt less overwhelmed after deploying the matrix.”

This stuff works. So let’s start getting strategic!

Creating Your Own Eisenhower Matrix

Grab your calendar, project lists, task manager — every to-do list under the sun. Let’s translate that into your personalized matrix:

Step 1) Draw a basic four-square grid (see templates below)

Step 2) Label X and Y axes. Horizontal axis is Importance. Vertical is Urgency.

Step 3) Populate each square with tasks fitting criteria

Step 4) Add target completion dates, reminders, etc.

Step 5) Delete or delegate Quadrant 3 and 4 items immediately

Step 6) Start knocking out Quadrant 1 tasks ASAP

Step 7) Schedule dedicated time for Quadrant 2 goals

That’s it! As you check off tasks, you’ll gain clarity around how you actually want to spend work hours. Bonus tip: Block time on your calendar specifically for updating the Matrix. Consistently reviewing ensures you catch any priority shifts.

12+ Customizable Templates

Rather than DIY, I highly recommend starting with a pre-built template. You can then easily customize it to your tasks, add teammates, adjust dates, and track progress.

I’ve rounded up the best Eisenhower Matrix templates across all platforms. Check out your options:

1. Smartsheet


  • Templates for Word, Excel, PDF and more
  • Color coded categories
  • Add reminders and status bars
  • Share with team members

2. Miro


  • Visually engaging and colorful
  • Fully customizable fields
  • Charts and graphs to visualize data

3. Asana


  • Build fully custom to your workflow
  • Assign tasks to individuals
  • Great for agile team management

4. Evernote


  • Simple layout good for individuals
  • Mark completed tasks
  • Integrates easily with other apps

And 8 more top-rated template options…

The right template depends on your existing tools and personal preference. For teams, ensure anyone can access and edit. Individual users may want additional calendar integration. Most templates allow revisions though, so don’t overthink it! Start somewhere and optimize as you go.

Tips for Making the Eisenhower Matrix Impactful

The effectiveness of this prioritization system depends wholly on your commitment to keep using it. Here are best practices:

– Start Small

Don’t get overwhelmed trying to categorize 100 tasks at once! Build the habit with one project area first.

– Review Weekly

Set time every Friday to refresh Matrix, check off done items, add new to-do’s.

– Update Teammates

If delegating tasks, share status reports so no balls get dropped.

– Be Honest

Accurately assessing importance/urgency is key. Don’t inflate them without reason.

Stick with it for a few weeks until checking the Matrix becomes second nature. You’ll notice less scramble, more intentional days, and major tasks completed faster.

Clarity on priorities is game changing. So whether you’re an overwhelmed entrepreneur or steering an enterprise, put the Eisenhower Matrix to work. Capture all those to-do’s then systematically plan attack. The rest will fall into place.

I’d love to hear your challenges and success stories applying this technique! Hit reply and let’s keep the conversation going. Here’s to winning weeks ahead!