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Time Management Matrix

Time Management Matrix

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Quick Overview

In 1989 Steven Covey wrote his book, “The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People”. The book describes three habits necessary to grow from a “dependent” person to an “independent” person or employee.

Related models: Time Management MatrixProjectmanager RadiusForce Field AnalysisSteering ParametersDevils TriangleSMARTBARTStakeholder Salience Model


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Time Management Matrix



In 1989 Steven Covey wrote his book, “The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People”. The book describes three habits necessary to grow from a “dependent” person to an “independent” person or employee.

The third habit often focuses primarily on time management and planning. According to Covey, time management is the organizing and carrying out of priorities. The model above is a practical instrument used to structure everything an employee or person wants to do, with the most important one coming first. Covey continues by describing the three habits necessary to grow from an independent person to a “co-dependent” person or employee. In the 7th habit, Covey describes what is needed in order to continuously use the first 6 habits. The book is based on four basic human qualities: imagination (the ability to create, conscience (values as well as the means to discover what makes you unique), free will (every person is free to choose in every situation), and self-consciousness.


Related models: Time Management Matrix; Projectmanager Radius; Force Field Analysis; Steering Parameters; Devils Triangle; SMART; BART; Stakeholder Salience Model


The model

Covey makes a distinction between “urgent” and “non-urgent” activities (x-as). And “important” and “non-important activities” (Y-as).

      Important and urgent activities (quadrant I) are for example: urgent problems, issues with a deadline.     

      Important and non-urgent activities (quadrant II) are for example: working on relationships, discovering new possibilities, planning.    

      Non-important and urgent activities (III) are for example: interruptions (some telephone calls, mail, reports), some meetings, issues that aren’t currently important, popular activities.   

      Non-important and non-urgent activities are for example: escapes, time killers (TV shows).

Effective people limit themselves to activities in quadrants I and II.     

Covey distinguishes between long term organizing (of your life) and weekly programming (short term). Long term organizing begins with a personal statute (part of the second habit), the roles you fulfill in life (for example, husband, father, job, friends, clubs, etc.) and the goals you set in those areas and what that means for your priorities and the way you spend your time.

Weekly programming begins from your roles, followed by your short term goals, the planning and delegating of your activities.


What can you do with it?

The first thing is, by filling out the way you spend time in the aforementioned matrix, you receive insight: first intuitively and after that by keeping track for a week. Is the estimate correct?

It’s important that quadrant II activities get enough attention. How are you doing that NOW?

Based on the insight, it’s then time to make choices and to live these choices. This means for example, “saying no” to certain activities and/or delegating them and “saying yes” to other activities (from quadrant I and II).

The effect of this research, the choices and the actions, is that people take action on the issues important to them. This means:    

      Personal principles come first: quadrant II becomes reality.

      Driven by conscience: life is organized according to personal values;

      It defines your unique destination, including values and goals for the long term;

      A good tool for getting to know and designing the roles you play in life.

      Weekly programming puts your life into a broader perspective.

Here’s to all the time you’ll have left over!


Related models: 

-   Time Management Matrix

-   Projectmanager Radius

-   Force Field Analysis

-   Steering Parameters

-   Devils Triangle


-   BART

-   Stakeholder Salience Model






       The seven habits of highly effective people, Stephen R. Covey, (EAN: 9789047054641)