Why is it that some people are able to accomplish so much more than others? One possible explanation is their skill to manage time more efficiently. And although when it comes to management there isn’t one method to fit all, there are some universal principles that can guide you in the process.
One such principle comes from the Stephen Covey’s business book, “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People,” and it’s called “Time Management Matrix”.
Here are a few tips that will help you control your day with the Time Management Matrix so you can take back your schedule and focus. 🙂
The matrix allows you to schedule your week according to what’s most important, and what will have the most meaningful results. It covers the idea of putting first things first and is designed to help you become a more effective self-manager.
As you can see from the graphic below, the time management matrix also known as Eisenhower’s Box is separated into four quadrants which refer to the two main criteria on which you evaluate tasks that are urgency and importance.
Urgent issues require immediate actions, while important ones contribute to your mission, values, and goals. It sounds quite simple, but the problem is that we’re far more likely to deal with urgent activities, regardless of importance. The reason why is that they are visible and pressing, like for example the phone ringing on your desk or a new e-mail that just appeared in your mailbox and screams “read me”. What’s more, there are also things that you prefer to do because they’re easy and pleasant. In this situations, you’re completing tasks but they don’t move your project forward and after the whole day or week of work you feel like you’ve done nothing. Don’t worry! You’re in good hands right now if you want to avoid all this drama. So keep reading!
OK, so what those quadrants exactly mean?
Quadrant I – Urgent & Important
The first quadrant contains tasks and responsibilities that need immediate attention. There are usually two types of such assignments: ones that you could not have foreseen, and others that you’ve left until the last minute. Think about the second ones and always try to schedule similar activities ahead of time, so that they don’t become urgent.
Quadrant II – Not Urgent & Important
The second quadrant is for items that are important but don’t require immediate action. This one from all is the best place to invest your time. That’s the long-term goals place, and those are the one we like the most because they really change things. Once again make sure you plan enough space in your calendar to complete all tasks so that they do not become urgent.
Quadrant III – Not Important & Urgent
The third quadrant relates to tasks that are urgent but not important. These are things that prevent you from achieving your goals. Ask yourself whether you can reschedule or delegate them.
Example: A common source of such activities is other people. Sometimes it takes only one “no”, and all is settled.
Quadrant IV – Not Important & Not Urgent
The last quadrant focuses on things that do not represent any importance or urgency. And if something is not urgent and not important for you… It’s just a distraction. Nothing else. Avoid them if possible.
One of the most underestimated and ignored, yet so meaningful, aspects to the Time Management Matrix is the importance of quadrant two. Although these goals and activities are not urgent, they should be the most important to you and the company. Long-term goals are the ones that can really change the structure of your actions and finally lead you to success. Without this quadrant, efficient time management would not be possible, as it requires strategic elements as well.Always try to schedule similar activities ahead of time, so that they don't become urgent Click To Tweet
There are three basic steps to the world of Matrix. And no – the first one does not include choosing between the red or the blue pill. What you should do instead is:
- Identify goals
- Prioritize them with matrix
- Prioritize your daily/weekly plan so that it matches your priorities
And once again, keep in mind to maximize time spent on quadrant II activities. This will allow you (in the long run) to reduce quadrant I activities. As many of them could have been quadrant II activities in the first place—if better planning had been implemented.
And just like Morpheus said in a Matrix movie : There is a difference between knowing the path and walking the path so don’t stop on reading about Matrix, try it for yourself!
Do you have any other ways of prioritizing tasks that work? Let us know! Sharing is caring 🙂