Attend any training on time management and you are sure to see the matrix. You might not know what it was called, you almost certainly remain confused, but you’ve seen it. It looks like:
This design was originally known as the Eisenhower matrix (as it was developed by President Dwight E. Eisenhower) and was later adopted by Stephen Covey’s, “7 Habits of Highly Effective People”.
Looking at the matrix, you will notice that there are two criteria you use to judge items that require your attention- their urgency and their importance. Urgent activities require immediate attention, things like an important deadline or an emergency. Important activities are those which will have an impact on progress toward your goals.
The goal with this matrix is to spend as much of your time in Quadrant II (important, non-urgent) as possible.
Spend too much time in Quadrant I and you find yourself stressed, stretched, and strained. Excess time in Quadrant III will result in be constantly busy without much to show for it. Quadrant IV feels good, and you certainly can visit it from time to time to recharge and relax, but likewise you shouldn’t live there.
So just stay in Quadrant II. The end. Good luck in your future time management efforts.
…if only it were that simple. However, clients demand attention, phone calls beg to be answered, then there are all the deadlines to juggle! How do you make it past these things to even get to Quadrant II?
Start by being honest about how you spend your time. Take a step back and really think about where the bulk of your efforts are spent.
Then, consider what we discussed last week, the 80/20 (pareto principle) rule. How many of those things that seem urgent, really are? I’ve been known to ditch more than a few meetings because they didn’t align with my personal goals. Not to say never attend meetings but do take the time to consider how you are spending your time.
Finally, develop a plan to spend more time in Quadrant II. Consider how to lessen or eliminate your emergencies. Constantly answering the same questions over and over again? Is it time for a fact sheet? Time to train others how to help? Find yourself consistently late on deadlines? Blocking off time on your calendar to make sure you are able to follow through completely is certainly a Quadrant II activity. Once you increase your time spent in Quadrant II, you will see your Quadrant I needs shrink.
See you back next week as we begin to eat frogs!