The Eisenhower Matrix: A Chief of Staff's Best Friend

Mention the “Eisenhower Matrix” to any experienced Chief of Staff and they will likely nod their head appreciatively and tell you all about how this particular 2x2 framework allows them to triage, route, and delegate the barrage of action items and tasks that are coming at them.

The Eisenhower Matrix, also known as the Urgent-Important Matrix, is a time management tool named after Dwight D. Eisenhower, the 34th President of the United States and a five-star General during World War II. Its origins are linked to a quote attributed to Eisenhower: "I have two kinds of problems, the urgent and the important. The urgent are not important, and the important are never urgent."

The Eisenhower Matrix is structured as a simple box divided into four quadrants to categorize tasks based on their urgency and importance:

Quadrant 1 (Urgent and Important): Tasks that need immediate attention.  Maybe these are tasks that your Principal should have eyes on, maybe they make it onto the Staff meeting agenda.

Quadrant 2 (Not Urgent but Important): Tasks that contribute to long-term goals and personal development.  These may tie back to your strategic plan, or fit into your org’s “boulder” definition.

Quadrant 3 (Urgent but Not Important): Tasks that demand attention but do not contribute to long-term goals.  Delegate these!

Quadrant 4 (Neither Urgent nor Important): Activities that offer little to no value and can be eliminated.  Delete them!

Here is a handy image from our friends Asana (here is their excellent resource on the topic).

Image Source: Asana

So why does this particular framework resonate so much with Chiefs of Staff?

Well, I think there are a number of reasons: It's a framework for triaging the firehose of work coming at them; It's a helpful visualization for figuring out what to delegate; It's a lens on what is truly dial moving / strategic, and what is fake urgent. And it helps with time management, which is perhaps the biggest bogeyman facing the Chief; too much work and not enough time.

Which brings me to the Big Reveal.

Here at Ambient, acting upon the feedback of more than 100 Chiefs, we’ve been developing an Eisenhower Matrix inspired tool to help Chiefs visualize and act on tasks and action items..

Here’s how it works:

Summon an Ambient recorder into any live meeting, and Ambient will generate a structured list of Action Items / Action Owners / Timelines.

These Action Items can now be visualized and processed in an Eisenhower inspired matrix.

Eisenhower Matrix by

And this is not only a visualization.  Chiefs can drag & drop tasks from one matrix to the next, edit metadata, delegate low importance tasks, and even export out to their preferred project management system like Asana, Jira, and ClickUp.

At Ambient, we are determined to give 10-15 hours back to the Chief per week, and now have an end to end workflow on the board; Automatic AI Notes, Next Step / Action Item Extraction (and export to Asana / Monday / Clickup etc.), CoS Dashboard, and now Eisenhower Matrix. Please reach out if you’d like to get hands on the product.

Written by Lawrence Coburn, CEO and Co-Founder

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