What is the Time Management Tool?

The Time Management Tool (TMT) is a self- management tool, based on the “Time Management Matrix” developed by Steven Covey in his infamous book, the 7 Habits of Highly Effective People.

This is a simple but useful tool was developed to assist you in identifying “what is soaking up your time on a daily basis?” and to  further assist you in “prioritising your work”.

Each quadrant has a different property and will help you prioritise your tasks and responsibilities.

The quadrants are as follows:

Quadrant 1: Urgent and important

Quadrant 2: Not urgent but important

Quadrant 3: Urgent but not important

Quadrant 4: Not urgent and not important

The Four Quadrants model categorises each task, responsibility or relationship based on its urgency and importance. The objective of using this model is to improve both your personal and professional relationships and promotes growth and accomplishment.

Q1 – Urgent and important (The quadrant of necessity)

This is the Quadrant of Urgency, where you drop your responsibilities and focus on resolving these urgent matters. A lot of people can spend their whole life in this quadrant. This is where the term running round like a headless chicken comes from. If you spend too much time in this quadrant, then life starts to control you, and you will find you are just reacting to what life gives you instead of planning and preventing. We will get through a lot of work in this quadrant, but we will never improve our business or lives and spending too much time in here can lead us backwards.

Some examples may include: The birth of your child, a customer complaint, life emergencies, Crises& pressing problems, Deadline driven projects, People issues.

Q2 – Not urgent, but important (The quadrant of Quality and Personal Leadership)

This is the Quadrant of Quality, the idea of this quadrant is to make your life easier and more enjoyable in the long run. To move forward, you need to spend time in non-productive areas like planning, prevention and preparing for what life can throw at you. By working effectively in this area, it means when you get busy it will be less of a sudden surprise and shock. You’ll be able to work more effectively and with a clearer head. Another way to see this quadrant is the quadrant of working on your business, this doesn’t produce you any revenue, but by working on your business makes working in your business easier.

Some examples may include: Doing your taxes, getting your car serviced, calling your mother, planning and preparation, strategic/business meetings, relationship building, finding new opportunities, long term planning, personal growth

Q3 – Urgent, but not important (The quadrant of Deception)

This is the quadrant of distraction, all those urgent matters that come to your attention that you shouldn’t be dealing with. These could include, Useless phone calls, interruptions, some emails that you shouldn’t be responding too, meetings that don’t achieve anything. These tasks tend to hijack your time away from the important matters of your day.

Some examples may include: Answering emails within 10 minutes of receiving them, telephone calls, reports,  meetings.

Q4 – Not urgent not important (The quadrant of Waste)

This is the quadrant of waste. We end up moving into here by accident and it can easily consume hours of our day. Examples of this can be procrastination activities, checking social media and scrolling through your Christmas catalogue emails. Our brains love spending time in these areas because it’s easy and doesn’t require any mental capacity. It’s hard to distinguish between the quadrant of quality and the quadrant of waste. Mindless tasks like scrolling through social media can be put into the quadrant of quality when you’re using it as a way to take a break or in the quadrant of waste if you are using it to avoid other tasks in your day.

Some examples may include: A Netflix binge session, reading the comments in a news article, some emails (junk) and telephone calls, trivia and chat, doing unnecessary tasks e.g. (working from home) cleaning the kitchen, folding clothes (Office) photocopying etc.

Time Management Tool (TMT)

I’m sure you can spot where you lose time in Q3 and Q4 in your own life, as well as at work.

The best-practice rule of thumb is to spend most of your time in Q2, followed by careful time spent in Q1. Stay away from quadrants 3 and 4!

Q1 – Urgent and Important



Q2 – Not Urgent but Important



Q3 – Urgent but not Important



Q4 – Not urgent, not Important