The Urgent / Important Matrix

Urgent / Important Matrix

It’s Monday and usually our team will have Internal Meeting on the beginning of the week. During the meeting, we discussed about the importance of time management and every of the members are to commit to complete all important tasks within the day. Then, one of the members raised her hand and asked a question – How?

People are afraid to admit their weakness, but if you often experience the following situation, then you must admit that you are poor in prioritizing.

  • Do you frequently feel overwhelmed by all the tasks on your to-do list?
  • Is every day a struggle to meet deadline?
  • Sometime you have double-book appointments because you don’t have time to check your schedule?
  • Ad hoc appointment or meeting will ruin your planning of the day?

Deciding what is most important is a skill you develop with mindful practice. Every of us has our own duties, goal and responsibilities, there is no special formula that works for everyone. Therefore to learn about prioritizing effectively, you must first understand what is your roles and what outcome you want from your action. Once you know all these, you will find it easier to define your priorities and schedule your time to make better use of it.

To know how to prioritize, then organize and execute around the, I like to refer to Steven Covey’s Time Management Matrix. It guides me how to work effectively and efficiency. The theory simply helps you look at your task list, and quickly identify the activities you should focus on. By prioritizing using the matrix, you can deal with truly urgent issues, at the same time that you keep on working towards important goals.

In this article, we’ll look at how you can use the Urgent/ Important Matrix to manage your time effectively.

urgent/ important matrix

As you can see, every task falls into 4 quadrants: Important and Urgent, Important but not Urgent, not Important but Urgent, not Important and not Urgent. We classify each task according to these quadrants, and then we deal with the task according to the quadrant they belong to.

Quadrant 1: Important and Urgent

We need to complete the tasks in this quadrant because they’re important, and we should do them first because they are urgent. If you have many list in your to-do-list we should finish these tasks first. If we let go or didn’t do, it will have negative impact on your performance or quality of life.

Quadrant 2: Important and Not Urgent

We take care of Quadrant 2 after we are done with Quadrant 1. The tasks in Quadrant 2 are not urgent, but they are very important, therefore we need to take them seriously. If we don’t, the tasks will go to Quadrant 1. Therefore it is better to take care of your tasks before they appear in Quadrant 1. There are usually 2 problems with Quadrant 1: Since we have to deal with them quickly, it will cause stress and worry and even affect the quality of work.

If we don’t complete our tasks in Quadrant 2, we will find ourselves in a situation where we are short of time, hence we become less productive. Therefore we must monitor this quadrant carefully. Make sure our tasks are divided into subtasks if needed.

Quadrant 3: Not Important and Urgent

Why should we bother since the tasks are not important? Why are they urgent?

For example, if your manager wants to call for meeting and your attendance is compulsory; Maybe you have a phone call instead; Some ad hoc changes in your project?

Quadrant 4: Not Important and Not Urgent

The tasks in this quadrant are serious time wasters. When you identify a task in that quadrant, try to cancel it. If you can’t eliminate it completely, try to minimize the time you spend on that task.

According to Dr. Covey, up to 90% of most people’s time is spent in Quadrant 1 – the Urgent and Important, while the remaining 10% is spent n Quadrant 4 – Not Important and Not Urgent. Some people spend all their time in Quadrant 3 under the illusion that they are dealing with important tasks in Quadrant 1, but they’re just wasting time. Dr. Covey says “Effective people stay out of Quadrants 3 & 4 because urgent or not, they aren’t important.

No matter what goals or projects you want to achieve, remember that your time should under your control. Learn to prioritize your tasks and events for every day and you will see immediate increase in your productivity.

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2 thoughts on “The Urgent / Important Matrix

  1. Pingback: Got a minute? Learn how to manage your time effectively. | Oxford University Press
  2. Pingback: I don’t have the time for this right now | Music Teaching UK

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