How is a 27-year-old time-management matrix relevant to today's "plugged in" workers?
Good habits never go out of style.
In 1989, fax was the fastest way to send a message and jobs were sourced via the newspaper. Today, the range of modern devices, tools and gadgets we rely on offer digital convenience with one drawback: constant distraction. Before any of today's technical devices were invented, Stephen Covey's 1989 book, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, introduced a time-management matrix to evaluate tasks using two main criteria: urgency and importance. So how does the "plugged in" workforce of 2017 benefit from a business methodology nearly three decades old?
Because the number of devices we check and recheck in both our personal and professional lives has tripled, time management has never been more important. Applying Covey's methodology, you will map out your current to-do list at the start of each week in order to sort out less urgent and important activities, which should be limited or avoided altogether (Quad 3). This allows more time for the tasks that yield long-term results (Quad 2). The result is fewer fires to constantly put out (Quad 1) due to effective planning through your ability to take preventative measures before a crisis occurs.
This exercise will also help you come to terms with how much time you spend (or waste) scrolling through social media (Quad 4). Mark Zuckerberg of Facebook built a billion dollar empire off our inability to limit the mindless activities of Quad 4. Although these activities provide a much-needed break, if you ever tracked how much time you actually spend on this in any given week you’d realize why you can never get anything done.
Quadrant I: Urgent-Important
Crisis, putting out fires, problem-solving
These are the most pressing tasks that demand immediate action.
Quadrant II: Not Urgent - Important
Relationship-building, planning, self-development, prevention
This is where we should spend most of our time, but often don’t. These items are high on our list of priorities but often get pushed aside when urgent items present themselves. They matter in the long-term, but don't yield tangible results right away.
Quadrant III: Urgent - Not Important
Reporting, phone calls, unnecessary meetings.
Limit these tasks because these interruptions consume our time and aren't beneficial for long-term success.
Quadrant IV: Not Urgent - Not Important.
Busy work, social media
These mindless activities provide a much-needed break, but suck up a lot of valuable time and therefore, should be eliminated.
Want weekly updates on the latest trends in compensation? Sign up for our newsletter!