Time Management

In a typical day for an administrator and teacher, time is of the essence. Some of you may have seen the Stephen Covey’s Time Management Matrix, but I wanted to find an explanation that everyone could relate to in their everyday life.  I found this chart and explanation from Sidsavara.com.  Next week, chart where you are spending your time. You may be surprised which quadrant you are spending the majority of your time.

Covey’s Time Management Matrix

Stephen Covey, author of The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People and First Things First  popularized the concept of a Time Management Matrix for prioritizing. The system advocates the use of four quadrants to determine the tasks you “need” to do and deciding what should be made a priority.

For those who are not familiar with it, here’s a picture and a brief overview.


  • In Quadrant 1 (top left) we have important, urgent items – items that need to be dealt with immediately.
  • In Quadrant 2 (top right) we have important, but not urgent items – items that are important but do not require your immediate attention, and need to be planned for. This quadrant is highlighted because Covey emphasizes this is the quadrant that we should focus on for long term achievement of goals
  • In Quadrant 3 (bottom left) we have urgent, but unimportant items –  items which should be minimized or eliminated. These take time, the “poor planning on your part does not constitute an emergency on my part” variety of tasks.
  • In Quadrant 4 (bottom right) we have unimportant  and also not urgent items – items that don’t have to be done anytime soon, perhaps add little to no value and also should be minimized or eliminated.  These are often trivial time wasters

Quadrant 4 – Not Urgent and Not Important

Clearly, not urgent, not important – and an obvious time waster.  Other time wasters include:

  • Mindless web browsing
  • Too much television/channel surfing for the sake of  channel surfing
  • Reading lots of random RSS feeds , low value e mail

Quadrant 3 – Urgent and Not Important

Other “Urgent” tasks that add little to no value

  • Phone calls that are off topic
  • Email that you have to reply to right away or it loses      value (“Do you want some donuts? I have some in my office!”)

Quadrant 2 – Not Urgent And Important

Your overall health is something you may take for granted today, and may not see urgency in dealing with it – but long term, we know it’s of supreme importance.

There are some other important, yet not urgent, things that fall into this quadrant as well:

  • Exercise
  • Reviewing your career path
  • Maintaining relationships with family/friends

Quadrant 1 – Urgent and Important

Perhaps not entirely rational, but at least priorities are in order.  Other examples:

  • Family Emergencies
  • Real, hard deadlines for important projects

2 thoughts on “Time Management

  1. I am an Australian teacher…Have never seen this matrix and I love it! I can definitely confess too spending a little too long in the time wasting area! But I do wonder…is what I consider a time waster perhaps someone else’s necessity? I also wonder as I sit blogging with my two children in the room where this would fall 🙂

  2. Thanks for your comment. Great point about how each person’s urgent and important list is based on their own perception. I think in a work environment, you may need to determine your Quadrants as a team to track your progress and set your goals. In your personal life, the matrix may be one of many tools to help you reevaluate your priorities if you are not happy or frustrated with your direction in life. Have a great day!

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