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The IV Quadrants of Time Management
Perhaps the best way to conclude this section is with a well-established exercise entitled the 4 Quadrants of time management. Sometimes called the Eisenhower Matrix, this helps us to not merely create a to-do list for the day, but the right to do list, which focuses on priorities.
The basic principles are that everything we do can be divided into 4 boxes based on a matrix of importance and urgency.
Quadrant 1 – Critical … as these are important and urgent, there isn’t much you can do about this box; you have to drop everything else to deal with it straight away.
Quadrant 2 – Valuable … this is where we need to spend more of our day. Sadly often missed in favour of the other boxes.
Quadrant 3 – Distractions … used as an escape from the day which has been spent in Quadrants 1 and 4.
Quadrant 4 – Interruptions … Being pulled by others to do tasks that are of low value to our work, team, family life, etc.
Using the attached exercise, think about the last week or so. What have you done which is from each of the 4 Quadrants. Focus on Quadrant 2 – what do you do in your week that really adds value? What makes you feel ‘in the zone’? Include both work and personal items. We need more time for Quadrant 2!
What are your Quadrant 2 activities? Feel free to comment below …
General observation: The more time we spend in Quadrant 2, the less time we find our self in Quadrant 1. If we don’t catch something in Quadrant 2, a result will often occur in Quadrant 1. To have more time for Quadrant 2, we need to reduce Quadrant 3 (a sensible conversation with our self) and Quadrant 4 (a sensible conversation with someone else.
The Daily Big 3: Based on this exercise, a number of productivity experts recommend building the Daily Big 3. (Big doesn’t mean long; simply strategically important). What would be your Big 3 tasks for tomorrow? Start your day (or end your previous day) with scheduling these. Put them in the diary or at least mark them as being the key task for the day (Microsoft To Do has a “My Day” option which is ideal for this).
Take a day or two and map your time against the IV Quadrants. How did you spend your time? Did you have enough Quadrant 2 time. Any refinements?
Use the attached PDF time tracker (includes calculated fields) or try online trackers such as Toggle Track and Timeular.
As an optional end to this section, revisit the Roles exercise and against each role, list all of the key projects.
This could end up being anywhere between 50 and 100 and its a great way to build your system, have a complete inventory and feel on top of our busy world.