The Four Quadrants of Time Management

Time management is the key to personal productivity and the success of your business.

The Key

Time management is the key to personal productivity and the success of your business. There are a lot of time management strategies out there, but we have found Steven Covey’s Four Quadrants of time management to be the most effective. It focusses you on the daily tasks that are the most important to you by identifying areas you may be spending your time in which are not effective.

What are the Four Quadrants of time management?

Each quadrant has a different property and will help you prioritise your tasks and responsibilities. The quadrants are as follows:

  • Quadrant 1: Urgent and important
  • Quadrant 2: Not urgent yet important
  • Quadrant 3: Urgent but not important
  • Quadrant 4: Not urgent and not important

The Four Quadrants model categorises each task, responsibility or relationship based on its urgency and importance. The objective of using this model is to improve both your personal and professional relationships and promotes growth and accomplishment.

Organise your day

By organising your day into the four quadrants, you will be able to have clarity on where you need to be spending your time and as a result, getting more of what’s important to you done.

Download our free Time Management Matrix Template (.docx – Word Document Format)

Quadrant 1: Urgent and Important

This is the Quadrant of Urgency, where you drop your responsibilities and focus on resolving these urgent matters. A lot of people can spend their whole life in this quadrant. This is where the term running round like a headless chicken comes from. If you spend too much time in this quadrant, then life starts to control you, and you will find you are just reacting to what life gives you instead of planning and preventing. We will get through a lot of work in this quadrant, but we will never improve our business or lives and spending too much time in here can lead us backwards.

Quadrant 2: Not Urgent yet Important

This is the Quadrant of Quality, the idea of this quadrant is to make your life easier and more enjoyable in the long run. To move forward, you need to spend time in nonproductive areas like planning, prevention and preparing for what life can throw at you. By working effectively in this area, it means when you get busy it will be less of a sudden surprise and shock. You’ll be able to work more effectively and with a clearer head. Another way to see this quadrant is the quadrant of working on your business, this doesn’t produce you any revenue, but by working on your business makes working in your business easier.

Quadrant 3: Urgent but Not Important

This is the quadrant of distraction, all those urgent matters that come to your attention that you shouldn’t be dealing with. These could include, Useless phone calls, interruptions, some emails that you shouldn’t be responding to, meetings that don’t achieve anything. These tasks tend to hijack your time away from the important matters of your day.

Quadrant 4: Not Urgent and Not Important

This is the quadrant of waste. We end up moving into here by accident and it can easily consume hours of our day. Examples of this can be procrastination activities, checking social media and scrolling through your Christmas catalogue emails. Our brains love spending time in these areas because it’s easy and doesn’t require any mental capacity. It’s hard to distinguish between the quadrant of quality and the quadrant of waste. Mindless tasks like scrolling through social media can be put into the quadrant of quality when you’re using it as a way to take a break or in the quadrant of waste if you are using it to avoid other tasks in your day.