Previously I talked about the importance of managing your time efficiently. One of the most important aspects of this is to evaluate the tasks in your life. Hence, you want to lay them out in a time management matrix. This gives you the critical information you need when planning how to work your way through the list
What Is A Time Management Matrix
The Time Management matrix goes by many names – the Covey Matrix, the Eisenhower Matrix, the Urgent Matrix, and many, many other variants. It’s been discovered and reused by business planners for decades. Presidents have used it. CEOs have used it. So have work-from-home parents and struggling students.
It’s all about the nature of each task. Let’s look at a grid with four cubes in it.
Tasks get put into whichever of these four cubes makes the most sense.
Seems simple, right? But if we look at the tasks we tend to do in life, a lot of them somehow end up being the “urgent but not important” ones. The things that cry the loudest and perhaps are quick, easy, and painless to do. It brings a sense of progress. But in the meantime, urgent and important things are often left undone because they seem complicated or stressful. And the non-urgent things keep getting shunted to the back of the list until suddenly they become urgent.
The aim of this matrix is to let you look logically at the items you have before you.
The Covey Matrix Explained
Urgent And Important (Do It Now)
Yes, these have to be done. If your car’s tire goes flat, it has to be fixed. You should always leave time in your schedule for these items which can pop up by surprise. That being said, it’s important to track your schedule over time. If certain things keep popping into this area, look for ways to head them off before they become urgent. It can sometimes mean you aren’t spending enough time in the second category, which is:
Not Urgent And Important (Schedule It)
The more you can work steadily on these important things at a reasonable pace, the better life in general goes. That flow of calm, smooth energy tends to maximize progress and quality. Bills should be paid on time. Correspondence should be kept up to date. Not only does it build a better system in general, but it also reduces stress on those involved.
Urgent And Not Important (Delegate)
We all fall for these tasks. Something exciting is happening. Someone stops by with a question or need. There’s a balance here. We don’t want to ignore everything around us – but there needs to be a focus. Find ways to lessen those distractions. Take steps to remind yourself just what is important to spend your time on, and why.
Not Urgent And Not Important (Don’t Do It)
Ah, the time sinks. We all have them. Sometimes they’re useful in small doses as stress relievers. But if you didn’t have the stress in the first place, you wouldn’t need these to take up even more time. The more you can whittle these tasks out of your schedule, the more time you’ll have available for the key things that have to get done. The more your life will open up to new, soul-filling possibilities.
How To Get Started
It’s a good idea to fill out this Covey Matrix regularly at first, so you get a firm handle on where your time is going. A downloadable version is available HERE. Once you get into the rhythm of it, it’ll be second nature to consider where a task falls. Still, it’s a good idea to fill in a grid every week or two, just as a reminder of what you need to focus on and where your path is currently heading.