Top

Covey's Time Management Matrix

Covey
Highlights

Stephen R Covey’s fundamental concept of time management from his evergreen book “7 Habits of Highly Effective People” is one of the...

Stephen R Covey’s fundamental concept of time management from his evergreen book “7 Habits of Highly Effective People” is one of the most profound and practical frameworks of time management – planning and prioritization. In many of my training sessions, many participants ask me about his book and its concepts of personality development but also mention that they have not read through it. So, I am choosing here to take one of his most successful principles, that of time management, and elaborate it for readers to be able to apply in their daily life.

We all would agree that at work and at home, every day, we have tasks which are urgent i.e. tasks which need almost immediate attention and which have to be completed as soon as possible. While also, we would agree that every day we also have tasks that we do or intend to do which are important, of great benefit and value and must indeed be completed, i.e. there is no way around them. Aligning these 2 parameters of ‘urgent’ and ‘important’, Covey defines a time matrix of four quadrants based upon which individuals can plan, schedule and organize their daily tasks.

l Urgent and Important (Quadrant I): This quadrant contains all those tasks which are of high value and need to get completed for sure as well as need to be done immediately or as soon as possible.
This includes activities such as a sudden client change request, or a medical emergency, or an unexpected call for help by someone, or a sudden crash in the stock market, or a meeting called without notice, etc. Most of the times, the happenings in this quadrant are things that one has to deal with and cannot avoid, but they cannot control them or their status.
Covey calls this quadrant the ‘crisis’ quadrant. He says that some of the crises happen on their own unexpectedly whilst some so-called crises like paying bills on the last due date, rushing to office at the last minute, etc, are self-created crisis situations which can be avoided. The more time one spends in this quadrant, the more stressful their day is. The solution for reducing time in QI is to be more planned and proactive than being unplanned and reactive.
l Not Urgent but Important (Quadrant II): This quadrant contains all those tasks which are of high value and need to get done for sure but it is not imperative that one needs to do them immediately, a little bit of postponing them won’t cause too much harm. This includes all the activities such as regular exercise or medical check-up, planning one’s day, saving money or investing for the future, giving quality time to family and friends, etc. Covey calls this quadrant the ‘goals’ quadrant. At work, this also includes planning and scheduling one’s day.
He says that most people tend to procrastinate or postpone the tasks of this quadrant and do not realize when suddenly they get into the emergency mode and become a part of QI. Most professional and career progress goals, most relationships, financial goals, thoughts to contribute back to society, time for hobbies, and health usually fall into QII. The more time one spends in this quadrant, the more planned and less stressful one can be. The solution for increasing time in QII is to start spending a 20% of one’s day on tasks which take one towards important things in life.
l Urgent but not Important (Quadrant III): This quadrant contains all those tasks which need to be addressed immediately or as soon as possible but may not be of much value anyway. This includes all activities such as telephone calls in the middle of meetings or work, unexpected walk-ins by colleagues, doorbell ringing, tea/coffee breaks, etc. Covey calls this quadrant the ‘interrupts’ quadrant.
The happenings of this quadrant also are unexpected and most people believe them to be important, though they are not. These, however, still need to be addressed because they are interruptions to the ongoing task. For example, a ringing cell phone in the middle of a meeting must be attended to immediately, even if it is to turn it off. One cannot really do anything but respond when activities of QIII happen; so the best one can do is to find ways to minimize the chances of these interruptions by either putting the phones in silent mode or off the hook, closing the door with a do-not-disturb sign, etc. Lessening the interruptions can help increase one’s productivity in a given time.
l Not Urgent and not Important (Quadrant IV): This quadrant contains all those tasks which are neither of high value nor really need to get done as well as which do not need to be done any time soon. This includes activities such as watching TV continuously, chatting on Facebook, gossiping with friends, etc. Covey calls this quadrant the ‘time wasters’ quadrant. He says that the more the time that people spend in QI more the temptation to come back and just let the rest of their time in QIV. In order to find more time for QII, one needs to reduce or cut away the activities of QIV by resisting the temptations.
Eliminate your Q4 and increase your Q2 and reduce your Q1… You have the power!
Revathi Turaga is an
International Trainer and Inspirational Speaker. http://www.revathionline.com
Show Full Article
Print Article

Download The Hans India Android App or iOS App for the Latest update on your phone.
Subscribed Failed...
Subscribed Successfully...
Next Story
More Stories