This is how the time management matrix came into existence. Dwight Eisenhower, the 34th President of the United States was a general of US army and he had to make tough decisions continuously about which of the many tasks he should focus on each day. He invented the urgent important matrix. Later on Steven Covey used this matrix in his book 7 habits of highly effective people.
In this matrix, there are two main criteria – urgency and importance on which you evaluate tasks. Urgent activities require immediate attention; important ones contribute to your mission and goals.
You will want to focus most of your energy on activities that are important but not urgent. This matrix is divided in 4 quadrants.
Quadrant 1: Urgent & Important
- These are pressing activities that should be done right now!
- They help you towards achieving your goals and they are to be completed now.
- For example: If customer satisfaction is your goal and a customer needs to have an order as quickly as possible, you better book the order right now.
Quadrant 2: Not Urgent & Important
- Quadrant 2 includes activities such as relationship building, recognizing new opportunities, planning, and prevention.
- These are activities that help you towards achieving your goal, but they are not pressing. They can be done later.
- People who spend adequate amount of time in quadrant 2 are most effective.
Quadrant 3: Urgent & Not Important
- Things that need to be done now, but do not help you towards achieving your goals.
- Consider delegating or automating these activities.
- Sometimes you will have to do quadrant 3 activities, just make a conscious effort to minimize your time spent in this quadrant.
Quadrant 4: Not Urgent & Not Important
- These are activities that do not help you achieve your goals and also have no urgency.
- There is nothing wrong with some mindless activity, just know that you could spend that time doing things that help you achieve your goals! Allocate proper time for such activities.
- Consider delegating or automating.
Few examples of tasks in 4 quadrants are shown below.
In my next article, I will share strategies for personal productivity improvement!