Friday, December 7, 2007

Time Management Matrix

I would like to introduce you to the Time Management Matrix. Frequently discussed by Stephen Covey and Brian Tracy, this is a simple tool that can be used to guide a person's productivity choices. In other words, it can help you make better use of your time. This is perhaps one of the most valuable skills that sets leaders apart from mere mortals.

Here is the matrix as presented by Mr. Covey:

If you are spending most of your time in quadrant I, then you are likely always stressed and putting out fires. One of the primary problems faced by people living in Quadrant 1 is that when everything is important, nothing is important. By understanding that, you can begin to prioritize tasks. Does that task really need done now, by me? Can that be delegated? Do I need to volunteer for it? How important is it really? With proper planning, fewer tasks will become urgent since they can be taken care of ahead of time.

Here is where you are going to get things done. You can spend time working today to prepare for tomorrow. Why put off tomorrow what can be done today? You don't need to finish these tasks right away, but get them started. Think about it like you were building Rome. Before you can build the Colosseum, you should lay down some thick slabs of stone to act as a foundation. These first steps in your long range tasks may be that important, even if they are not urgent or pressing upon you immediately. All of those later steps will build one upon another, like brick upon brick. Before you know it, your task will be done (or Colosseum built if you're a Roman). To maximize your productivity, you should spend most of your time in Quadrant II.

Here is a tough choice- to pick up that ringing cell phone or to let it go to voicemail? It can be a tough choice because you may not know who it is or why they are calling. It is something that is urgent, but not necessarily important. There are many tasks that can fill a person's day, but they may not all be the most productive choices. Look at what you need or want to do, and determine which tasks you don't really need to do because they are not really that important. One task that I've had trouble with is the news. I'm a news junkie and I love checking sites like the Drudge Report to see what's going on minute-by-minute. However, I need to fight that urge because it is a waste of time. The news, if not applicable to your life, may be urgent but not important.

This is the most useless waste of time. Nothing accomplished here will actually change anything in your life or anyone else's. This is the quadrant of "waste" as Mr. Covey would call it. Hours checking Wikipedia for useless facts, watching 85 episodes of Stargate, or mindless debate of unimportant issues fill this quadrant. Although it can be enticing to lose yourself for a while, Quadrant IV can be destructive if you spend large amounts of time there.
Time management can be a daily struggle, but it is a struggle worth undertaking. It can help guide you and help you find your limits. Proper use of the guide above will help you answer the question: "What is the best use of my time?"

For more information about the Time Management Matrix, check out the website of Stephen Covey HERE and Brian Tracy HERE. For other ideas about time management, check out the Productivity Guru Steve Pavlina HERE. Thanks for visiting.

-----Sincerely, Trevor Stasik.

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