Use Firefighter Codes And The Eisenhower Matrix To Sort Your Inbox

Use Firefighter Codes And The Eisenhower Matrix To Sort Your Inbox

Too many emails can bog you down, so rather than being overwhelmed by the unread messages in your inbox, take charge. Entrepreneur Bryan Lee used his previous experience as a firefighter and a popular productivity tool to create a system to sort his emails.

In emergencies, firefighters use different colour-coded labels to tag patients to determine their priority. With your inbox, Lee uses these colours and the Eisenhower matrix of productivity to divide messages into four colours, as shown above. Go through all the unread or unaddressed messages in your inbox and start labelling them with one of those four colours.

The advantage of this system is that you can use the firefighters’ codes to know the action to take with each label:

  • Red (urgent and important): Do it now
  • Yellow (important, not urgent): Decide when to do it
  • Green (urgent, not important): Delegate it
  • Grey (not urgent, not important): Dump it

With this system in place, you should be better equipped to deal with email overload. Check out the full post below for some email management tools that Lee recommends.

Handle Your Email Like a Ninja Warrior [Tutum]


  • Absolutely nothing to do with email, but this is how my mind has always sorted out prioritization for most tasks at work. Having seen this article this morning, it was nice and fresh in my mind, which came in handy, as during a job interview this morning, I was asked “How would you prioritize a list of tasks given to you in busy times?”
    Explaining it to them by saying I break them down in to quadrants based on importance vs urgency, really seemed to impress them!

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