Use these 4 Squares to Stop Wasting Time and Energy so You Can Enjoy Your Work and Your Life

Elissa Teal Watson
2 min readSep 14, 2021

There’s a simple productivity framework for deciding what is essential and what can be eliminated or temporarily postponed.

Imagine a 2 by 2 grid (4 squares).

On the Y axis, you have Not Important and Important. On the X axis, you have Urgent and Non-Urgent.

Top left square (Quadrant 1 / Q1) = Urgent and Important

Top right square (Quadrant 2 / Q2) = Non-Urgent and Important

Bottom left square (Quadrant 3 / Q3) = Urgent and Non-Important

Bottom right square (Quadrant 4 / Q4) = Non-Urgent and Non-Important

Using this framework, The Eisenhower Matrix, is life-changing. This is the foundation of how I make decisions on what I choose to do with my time, both at work and in my personal life. I have a work/life balance that I love because I use this tool.

Q1: Handle these emergencies and crises immediately. Ignoring these will lead to negative consequences.

Q2: The work in this category is what will make your life so much better, so devote more time here. Examples: Proactive work, high impact activities, planning & prevention, relationship building, learning, and renewal (self-care).

Investing in Q2 activities will reduce the frequency of Q1 events because in Q2 you are being proactive.

Q3: These can be hard to get rid of because they come to us as urgent. We often mistake urgency with importance. Without analyzing these, they can rob us of time and energy that we could be using on important activities. With practice, we will be able to spot Q3 items more quickly and we can regain time in our schedules for the Q2 activities.

Q4: Reduce and eliminate these time wasters.

Start analyzing your activities with the Eisenhower Matrix and it will become easier to categorize them.

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Elissa Teal Watson

I write about mindset, emotional intelligence, self-care, productivity, habits, career, and relationship management.