Starting from the Eisenhower table, I classify my tasks like this:

It's easy to handle urgent important and unurgent unimportant tasks. The problem is, hardly a task is urgent to me, but most of the time it's just "important", in the sense that working on it will bring me useful knowledge that helps me work on future tasks more efficient. There are many times I wish I has learnt something in the past or has done it before, so that I'm prepared or don't need to do it now. But when the feeling is past or I manage to continue without it, I just let the task slips away.

Since the task is not urgent, it has to wait for the current urgent task. But when the current urgent task is finished, I usually don't know what to do next. All of the tasks in the wait list are important, but none of them is urgent.

My solution is to make a frequency list: every time I see a need to do a task, I increase 1 to the counter for it. When the task or a group of related tasks has high counts, I will work on it. I think this is the way to handle so many unurgent important tasks.

So is there any method that has the similar idea so that I can learn more? I'm also looking for an implement of time management tools, like Gantt chart, but it may be hard, since I can't predict the working time of each task (see also the cone of uncertainty).

  • What's your role? Who decides what's urgent or important? What are those criteria?
    – Todd A. Jacobs
    Apr 11, 2019 at 10:40
  • Not entirely sure this is a project management question. Fundamentally you're asking how to prioritize tasks in the "Important but not urgent" quadrant of the Eisenhower chart. There are a variety answers, but I suspect that the simplest is to examine your definition of "important" and work the tasks that are most closely connected to the success of the project.
    – MCW
    Apr 11, 2019 at 10:53
  • @MarkC.Wallace I agree with you that this is strictly not a pm question, but more of a task management question. It is about handling different interesting projects and tasks, which may or may not relate to each other, but suit my interests. The "important" can be replaced with "interesting" I suppose. And it's just a team of one.
    – Ooker
    Apr 11, 2019 at 11:33
  • 1
    As the question isn't about project management, and you have no business requirements to filter your tasks into an ordered sequence, this question is too broad to be anything but an opinion poll. If you can edit the question to provide weighted criteria, it could be considered on-topic and may be re-opened by the community.
    – Todd A. Jacobs
    Apr 11, 2019 at 11:41
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    This ties directly into prioritization, which is a critical part of any modern project management. I would argue that this is definitely on topic. Further, to the point of opinion-based, there are multiple techniques that address the same thing in prioritization with more sophistication.
    – Daniel
    Apr 11, 2019 at 11:58

1 Answer 1


The Eisenhower table is nice in its simplicity, but that simplicity also makes it inadequate to prioritize alone. The first thing you may want to do when trying to prioritize from this points is not look at the insurgent as one big category, but as different cost of delay profiles. Is there some date in the future where the cost of delay jumps? Is there a steady rise in cost of delay? Is it something that requires you to watch the market to know when you need to do it?

Another way you can look at it is at the value it creates. The "important but unurgent category" probably has significant value to be gained (if it is really important) and since value often compounds over time that means waiting can be costly. 

  • You figure out how much you gain if you do it now, how much you gain if you do it later, and how much you pay if you don’t do it at all, for each task. Then you figure out how much it costs to do the task, and also look at dependencies. For example: “Customer will cancel the contract if we don’t do X by the end of next week”. X will be at the top of the list unless you decide you don’t want the contract.
    – gnasher729
    Jan 20, 2021 at 9:18

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