Color Code Eisenhower Matrix

Color Code Eisenhower Matrix
Color Code Eisenhower Matrix

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The Eisenhower matrix is a tool that helps to identify what to do next. The concept is mainly based on a balance of urgent and important topics. This concept exists for decades. [1] [2]

This post is up about tool categories that help to implement an Eisenhower matrix. The categories include:

Calendar Notebooks

Calendar Eisenhower Matrix
Calendar Eisenhower matrix item

My journey of tools I used to implement Eisenhower matrix started with paper and pen. I used a calendar notebook and added deadlines for urgent topics I had to meet. The notebooks display one week (Monday to Sunday) on one double page.

Urgent topics are always associated with deadlines. Important topics do not contain a deadline or the deadline is months away. If a deadline is due soon, an important topic became urgent.

My implementation approach for urgent topics: file those items at the date of the deadline.
When ever there were free slots in the calendar I added important topics with a marker (star or deadline in brackets) to distinguish these items from urgent items.

This worked great for years. However as this approach is offline and I missed all the online options. Rescheduling topics on paper calendars worked only partially if topic deadlines change.

Tables

Table Eisenhower Matrix
Table Eisenhower matrix

While the calendar approach was great to match deadlines with tasks, it was hard to identify the most important tasks in case there was no deadline in the current week.
Tables provided a simple solution to that. A table is an ordered list of unique items. There is only one priority one item, one priority two item and another priority three item and so on.
Such a table enriched with an additional column for deadlines displays what is the next tasks to work on.
After a task has been done it is deleted from the table.
Any spreadsheet application can be used for this approach, even word like applications that allow adding tables can be used to for this Eisenhower matrix approach.

Project Management Tools

Projects Eisenhower Matrix
Projects Eisenhower matrix

Project management tools was the next iteration I used to implement Eisenhower matrix. My choice was GitHub projects. However I worked in other contexts also with Asana, Trello and MS project. All these tools and others that support project management can be used to implement an Eisenhower matrix.

I created my own board with urgent and important tasks in GitHub projects. I started with a 3 column board

  • Todo
  • in Progress
  • Done

Later I exchanged the column Todo with

  • Urgent
  • Important

Over time I realized project management tools are very powerful tools and actually equipped for more sophisticated tasks. This made me consider other tools for Eisenhower matrix.

Note Tools

I reconsidered the starting point of my tools journey: filing notes in calendar notebooks. Users can use a wide variety of note tools including:

Keep is the tool that fits best my preferences. I use a color scheme to distinguish urgent and important topics:

  • urgent topics are   red  
  • important topics are   orange  
  • urgent & Not important are   yellow  
  • Not urgent & Not important are   green  
Color Code Eisenhower Matrix in Keep
Color Code Eisenhower Matrix in Keep

All urgent and important tasks are visible at a glance on the board using the Color Code Eisenhower Matrix. Notes are easy to move around and one can add additional notes, images, links etc. A task is marked as “done” when it gets archived.

Conclusion

I did enjoy all tools I used to implement the Eisenhower matrix with a focus on urgent and important tasks. All tools introduced in this post and more can be used to implement the Eisenhower matrix.
My favorite approach is the Color Code Eisenhower Matrix with Keep – red for urgent tasks, orange for important tasks.

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