Boost your productivity with the time management matrix

By juggling responsibilities and working towards our goals, we could all use a little help with time management. However, many of us struggle with procrastination or not knowing how to prioritize all of our responsibilities, which leads to unnecessary stress and wasted time.

Fortunately, best-selling author Stephen Covey popularized a time management strategy called the Time Management Matrix to help those who struggle with prioritizing. It has become an extremely popular method for time management and has helped millions of professionals around the world.

So if you struggle with time management and need help prioritizing your work, read on to learn more about the Time Management Matrix and how it can help you.

What is the Time Management Matrix?

Stephen Covey popularized the concept of the time management matrix in his bestselling book The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. The matrix makes it possible to categorize the tasks according to two criteria:

  • Is the task urgent?
  • Is the task important?

Answering these two questions helps you prioritize your tasks into one of four quadrants. Each quadrant will give you a good idea of ​​what you should focus on and what tasks you should drop altogether.

the the matrix is ​​a good visual what is important and what is not. Without such a visual, the importance of each task on our list can get a bit fuzzy, so we risk wasting time on tasks that don’t matter much to our ultimate goals.

Let’s dive deeper into each quadrant so you understand what types of tasks should be your top priorities.

The four quadrants

Q1: Urgent and important

Quadrant 1 is for tasks that are both urgent and important. These tasks are the highest priorities and should not be ignored or neglected.

Tasks that often fall into this category include emergencies, pre-scheduled meetings with clients or colleagues, projects that are due, and pressing issues. Effective people recognize these tasks as priorities and tackle them immediately.

Q2: Not urgent but important

Quadrant 2 tasks are important but not urgent. As a result, these tasks are often postponed. If they are delayed too often, they can end up in Quadrant I.

Tasks that often fall into this category include personal growth, building relationships, achieving long-term goals, and planning projects.

Ideally, these tasks are a major priority but can often be pushed back due to more pressing matters, such as Quadrant I tasks.

Q3: Urgent but not important

Quadrant 3 tasks need to be addressed urgently but are not necessarily important. It’s often interruptions or other last-minute tasks that crop up. They won’t necessarily help you achieve your overall goals, but they still need to be addressed.

These tasks include unexpected phone calls, last-minute meetings, answering emails, and unimportant requests.

Many of these tasks can be handled quickly. However, since these tasks are often quick and easy, they tend to take priority over more important responsibilities. Therefore, even if they have to be manipulated, it is better to minimize their impact so that you can work on more important tasks.

If possible, create a strategy to avoid these interruptions in the future. For example, you can spend an hour on emails every day instead of responding to them throughout the day. Or you can turn off your phone at certain times of the day to focus on other matters. While these tasks may be urgent, that doesn’t always mean they need to be dealt with immediately.

Q4: Not urgent and not important

Quadrant 4 contains tasks that are not important or urgent. Time wasters and distractions keep you from doing your job.

Drama, Social Mediasurfing the Internet and other distractions or busy work fall into this category.

Ideally, these tasks are all unnecessary and should be eliminated from your schedule. However, participating in these activities does not help you achieve your overall goals. In fact, they usually just keep you from reaching them.


Time management is all about prioritizing your workload. When you’re working toward big goals or projects, it’s all too easy to get distracted by wasting time or less important work. However, by prioritizing your tasks with the Covey Time Management Matrix, you can become more efficient and master time management.

Marie-Miguel Biography
Marie Miguel has been an expert writer and researcher for nearly a decade, covering a variety of health-related topics. Currently, she is helping to expand and grow a free online mental health resource with With an interest and dedication to addressing the stigma associated with mental health, she continues to specifically target topics related to anxiety and depression.