Crush Your Goals with the Urgent-Important Matrix

“What is important is seldom urgent and what is urgent is seldom important.”
~ Dwight D. Eisenhower

My friend Jeff used to say he was busier than a one-armed paper hanger. Funny? Yes, kinda. A good thing? Probably not.

When your to-do list is a mile long and more than you can accomplish in a day, a week, a month… It is paralyzing! We end up in reactive mode — always focusing on the urgent fires, usually things we ignored because we were putting out a different fire — and we never get to the truly important priority work that leads to achieving our goals. Basically, we are just busy being busy.

When you feel overwhelmed by your calendar, notes, and ideas and all the things you need and want to do, this is where the planning comes in.

You can’t do it all at once. So how do you prioritize and schedule things in a strategic way? Cue the Eisenhower Matrix (aka the Urgent-Important Matrix).

The Eisenhower Matrix helps you prioritize tasks by urgency and importance, and determine which tasks can be delegated (or automated) and which should be eliminated.

I absolutely love this tool. It is such a simple formula for success. I use it to plan my day, my week, my month and my 90-days. Any time I am feeling overwhelmed, I pull this out and apply it to my list. It’s amazing how well it works.

Use this matrix to sort your actions based on four possibilities:

  1. Urgent and important (tasks you will do immediately).
  2. Important, but not urgent (tasks you will schedule to do later).
  3. Urgent, but not important (tasks you will automate or delegate to someone else).
  4. Neither urgent nor important (tasks that you will eliminate).

Urgent tasks are usually those we feel we must react to: email, calls, text, alerts, etc. Important tasks, on the other hand, are things that contribute to our long-term goals.

YOUR future will largely be determined by your actions (and inactions). I truly believe that regardless of the conditions we find ourselves in, we can, to a large extent, create the future we desire.

While I am a huge believer in consistent, imperfect action, it is equally important to check the map every once in a while. Even with a tool like this to keep me on track, two questions that I routinely come back to are:

  1. Does this help me accomplish my goal?
  2. “Is this the very most important thing I should be doing with my time & resources right now?” (Greg McKeown, Essentialism: The Disiplined Pursuit of Less)

Deciding which tasks to do and which tasks to eliminate becomes much easier when you are clear about your goals.

Combined with a tool like the Content Creators Planner, it is possible to accomplish more by doing less when it comes to your content marketing.

Sounds good, doesn’t it? 😉

Is a “Smartist.” Celebrating 28 years as Orange Star Design, Inc. — the intersection of creativity, experience and technology.

She helps bring people’s visions to life with strategic branding, websites and marketing solutions. Jodi is also a fine artist and the founder of Live Love Dogs®.


  1. Jan Carroza on July 9, 2020 at 9:03 am

    Jodi, I’m in love with this concept. So fitting. I just heard this on CBS Sunday Morning when John Dickerson talked about it during these times:

    • Jodi Hersh on July 9, 2020 at 9:40 am

      Thanks, Jan! I love it, too. Not sure when I first learned of it – but was recently reminded of it in something by James Clear.

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