Do you constantly feel like you just don’t have enough time in the day? Like you’re always in a rush, barely staying one step ahead of the game (or in some cases, one step behind). It isn’t because you’re lazy, and it’s definitely not because you have some fatal time-management flaw. It’s most likely because you’re prioritising the wrong types of tasks. This is where the time management quadrant can help. Let me explain.
The Covey Time Management Matrix
Author of The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, Stephen Covey has made a career out of analysing and teaching effective productivity strategies. Throughout his work, he stresses the importance of time management. His 4 quadrant time management matrix helps people master their time and gain efficiency in every aspect of life.
The time management matrix isn’t a guide to completing all your tasks more efficiently. It instead allows you to better prioritise your tasks. Right now, you are likely completing your tasks either in no particular order or in order of urgency. Both those methods are leading you to the path of overwhelm.
You’re always going to have a to-do list. By strategically prioritising your tasks your to-do list will seem much less stressful and you’ll get a lot more of the important stuff done.
4 Quadrants of Time Management
So, what are the 4 quadrants of time management? The graphic below lays them out for you. Let’s break down what types of tasks fall into each quadrant and which quadrants you should be prioritising.
Quadrant 1: Urgent & Important
This quadrant is number 1 for a reason. These are your most crucial tasks that need immediate attention. At the most intense level, we’re talking about emergencies and crises. In everyday life, however, they are usually deadline-driven projects that we have put off until the last minute. If you have any tasks that belong in quadrant 1, they are your first priority, though the goal is to address tasks before they ever reach this quadrant.
Quadrant 2: Not Urgent but Important
Welcome to quadrant 2. This is for all those tasks that are still crucial but don’t need to be done right now. You know that project you have due in 3 weeks that you probably won’t start until the night before? Right now, that belongs here.
This is where you do all your preparation, planning, and quadrant 1 prevention. It isn’t just for work either. Family time, exercise, relaxation, keeping up with chores and other important responsibilities all fall into quadrant 2. Prioritise these tasks only behind emergencies so that they don’t eventually turn into one.
Quadrant 3: Urgent but Not Important
This is where you’re probably losing a lot of your valuable time. The most common quadrant 3 culprits are pesky emails that demand an urgent answer but are actually entirely unimportant. Other quadrant 3 regulars are useless meetings, trendy activities that you don’t actually enjoy, and interruptions.
While some of these are unavoidable, there are ways to filter some out. Whenever you get an ‘urgent’ email or phone call, stop and ask yourself if this is truly important before you waste time replying or answering. Filter your emails, prioritise good communication at work to avoid unnecessary meetings, and remind yourself that just because a putt-putt pop-up bar has opened in town, doesn’t mean you need to go there – especially if you hate putt-putt.
Quadrant 4: Not Urgent & Not Important
Quadrant 4 is home to your real time-wasters. Things like social media scrolling, binge-watching that old sitcom again, and spending hours photoshopping the perfect invite to your puppy’s birthday party (I mean, I get it, but come on). These tasks are to be enjoyed in small doses and not prioritised. They can still be fun and there is something to be said for wasting a little time every now and again, but leaving them uncompleted shouldn’t cause you any stress.
The Importance of Time Management
Now you know how to organise your tasks from most important to least. The next time you’re stressing out about your never-ending to-do list, categorise each item into their time management quadrant. You’ll be surprised at just how many quadrant 3 and even quadrant 4 tasks are taking up brain space.
Where to From Here
Looking for a coach or business consultant to help you manage your time? Stop trying to figure everything out on your own and give yourself advice from someone who has created not 1 but 2 successful 6-figure businesses. Let’s hop on a 30-minute discovery call where we can chat about your goals, struggles and how I can help you as your business consultant/coach. BOOK YOUR CALL HERE.
Want all that coaching value plus input from other badass women in business? Secure your spot at the Action Takers Mastermind Business Group for Women. You can also connect with a community of small business owners by joining my Facebook group, the Women in Business Collaborative.
Have an awesome day,