Stephen Covey, author of The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People and First Things First popularized the concept of a Time Management Matrix for prioritizing. The system advocates the use of four quadrants to determine the tasks you “need” to do and deciding what should be made a priority. For those who are not familiar with it, here’s a picture and a brief overview.
- In Quadrant 1 (top left) we have important, urgent items – items that need to be dealt with immediately.
- In Quadrant 2 (top right) we have important, but not urgent items – items that are important but do not require your immediate attention, and need to be planned for. This quadrant is highlighted because Covey emphasizes this is the quadrant that we should focus on for long term achievement of goals
- In Quadrant 3 (bottom left) we have urgent, but unimportant items – items which should be minimized or eliminated. These are the time sucks, the “poor planning on your part does not constitute an emergency on my part” variety of tasks.
- In Quadrant 4 (bottom right) we have unimportant and also not urgent items – items that don’t have to be done anytime soon, perhaps add little to no value and also should be minimized or eliminated. These are often trivial time wasters.
**In short, Effective & Successful people always stay in Quadrant 2.