As a part of my efforts to increase productivity, I need to prioritize my tasks. Time management matrix is a great tool for this purpose. Here I want to show you how you can use time management matrix to complete all your important things.
The question that I always try to answer about each thing that needs to be done from my side is about the importance of that thing.
The importance is always something that I use to define the priority. If it is more important than the priority will be higher.
Before 12 years, as a student for a master’s degree in the bookstore, I found a book from Stephen R. Covey titled as First Things First. Among 15 other books, I purchased that day in that bookstore was this one. There, for the first time, I learn something more about prioritizing and doing the first things through a framework in a form of the 2×2 matrix (time management matrix).
The time management matrix can help you to find whether or not a task is urgent, important or some combination of them.
The matrix gives you four quadrants, which can be used in prioritization and deciding about tasks you will need to do, tasks that can be delegated and tasks you can drop out. In addition to this decision, you can also decide what can be a part of your delegation process.
Here is the matrix with all four quadrants that I will explain below.
Time Management Matrix Quadrant 1: Important and Urgent Tasks
Let’s think about the important and urgent tasks. These tasks are important for you, and at the same time urgent to be done as quick as possible. They should be your first priority before everything else on your to-do list. These types of tasks need to be done today or tomorrow depending on the time when you prepare yourself for your daily activities.
For example, in this quadrant are tasks as already scheduled meetings with your customers, improvements that you need to implement, a project that solves big problems, etc.
Time Management Matrix Quadrant 2: Important But Not Urgent Tasks
This quadrant will have tasks that are important to you, but you can schedule them for some time in the future. You don’t need to jump directly to work on them today, but they will be something of your focus when you finish all first priority tasks (Quadrant 1).
These tasks should be your second priority because they are important to you, and if you don’t do them, you will have problems in the future.
For example, planning a project can be part of this quadrant because you can always start planning tomorrow.
Time Management Matrix Quadrant 3: Urgent But Not Important
Can you have something urgent, but not important? These tasks should be your third priority because even they are urgent, they are not important for you. You will not lose anything if we do them later.
For example, answering email that is not so important, even it has an urgent label on a subject line from a sender is not your first priority. It is the first priority for the sender.
Time Management Matrix Quadrant 4: Not Urgent and Not Important
Why will something not urgent and not important will be on your list of tasks? You need to drop them. Don’t lose your time on such tasks.
As you can see, with the help of this matrix, you can simply prioritize your tasks on your to-do list. This will give you tasks marked as 1 – something you need to do immediately, tasks marked with 2 – something can be done in near future and tasks marked with 3 – something that needs to be done when we have free time or to be delegated. Tasks marked with 4 you will need to drop from your list.