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How To Chart A New Course For Your Life With 3 Simple Diagrams

The Time Management Matrix

The Time Management Matrix

It's a visual tool for time management and evaluating tasks, to decide whether they should be carried out, delegated or dropped.

It divides tasks into 4 quadrants: Urgent and important, Not urgent and important, Urgent and not important, Not urgent and not important.

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The Planning Fallacy

We all have busy schedules, but we are incorrectly planning our day around the time we have, not around priorities.

Our estimates on how long certain tasks will take are almost always ...

Dwight D. Eisenhower
Dwight D. Eisenhower
“What is important is seldom urgent and what is urgent is seldom important."
The 4 Kinds of Priorities

The Decision Matrix on how to approach tasks has 4 quadrants:

  • Quadrant 1: The Urgent Problems which are important.
  • Quadrant 2: Not Urgent but important tasks
  • Quadrant 3: Urgent but not really important
  • Quadrant  4: Distractions and time-wasting tasks. 

Prioritize the important (Quadrant 2) to attain maximum benefit from your work.

Self-Managing Our Priorities

We need to take ownership and set priorities of the existing workload ourselves. Our priorities can be divided into:

  • The work that one is passionate about, and ha...
Prioritize Your Work
  • Prioritize the tasks with the highest value addition and impact, while being in your 'high passion' list.
  • Tolerate tasks that may be important but stress you out, as they may be part of the deal. It is also good to push yourself out of the comfort zone.
  • Elevate tasks that others don't see as important, but you are extremely motivated about
  • Delegate all procedural, low-value and low-energy tasks to someone else. If that is not possible, try to minimize or eliminate such work.
Flag Your Priorities

Take ownership and reclaim your time, choosing where you can best spend your time and energy.

You can analyze your last month's calendar and flag or grade your work and in which quadrant you have been working. This will help you plan in a more informed way to use the finite resources of time and energy.

Time management matrix
Time management matrix

At the beginning of every week, write a two-by-two matrix on a blank sheet of paper.

One side of the matrix says "urgent" and "not urgent".  The other side of the matrix says "important"...

Quadrant 1: Urgent-Important

These are the most pressing tasks we'll likely get to this week.  When we do fire-fighting, it's all relating to stuff in this quadrant.

Quadrant 2: Not Urgent - Important

These are the things that matter in the long-term but will offer no concrete benefits right now or even this year. They are things we know we need to get to but probably will push off.