Covey’s Quadrants


A few days ago I touched on one of the most important components of effective prioritising, getting clarity.

One of the best and most straightforward tools to help you achieve this is the Time Management Matrix. It’s an incredibly simple tool that anybody can use anywhere, and you can apply it to all the different parts of your life, no matter what your profession, where you live or what your culture.

The grid was made famous by Stephen Covey in his seminal text ‘7 Habits For Highly Effective People‘. (If you’ve already got a copy sleeping on your bookshelf, then do yourself and favour, go grab it and give it a re-read. If you haven’t come across it before then get yourself over to Amazon pronto.)

The matrix helps you focus on two main ingredients of Time Management, importance and urgency. Identifying each task that you have to do and working out where in the grid it goes can move you forwards very quickly because in one fell swoop you can see what you realy need to be doing and what can be ignored, and what needs to be done first, and what can wait.

Of course you will probably need to chunk it down further to get the important things prioritised and ordered further, but the quadrant is a wonderful starting point. Without the quadrant (or just not bothering to use it), you can end up expending a lot of energy but with no real gain, and wasting time. Most readers of this blog like to work hard and the quadrant helps you to work smart and hard, not just hard.

Take A Minute

Imagine you have a huge list of things to do. You’re pressed for time so you dive in and get things moving by starting on the most urgent thing on the list. This is natural for lots of people, including many high level managers (you’d be surprised at how many!). So you’re making great progress, efficiently ploughing through the work and what’s wrong with that I hear you ask? Well, if you haven’t considered the importance of a task then you could well be working on something that could in reality have been delegated, delayed or even just binned.

The Time Management Matrix helps you to ensure that all your tasks are tasks worth doing. Things that will take you forward and create value.

Next time we’ll look in more detail at how each quadrant works to help you make the most out of your day.

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