Aside from the impact of this kind of reactive lifestyle on health, personal productivity, and family relationships, the bottom line is that we waste a lot of time and energy on things that are pressing and proximate instead of working on what really matters most. In addition, we fail to integrate into our lives those things that have the highest quality of life-improving potential. But this all changes dramatically when we’re able to see life in terms of importance .
In previous works, we’ve shared how the power of this paradigm of importance can be captured in what we’ve come to call the “Time Management Matrix.” This matrix illustrates how we
As we study this matrix, it becomes evident that the real “mother lode” in terms of effectiveness is in Quadrant II. The key is to learn to see life in terms of importance rather than urgency—to act based on principles and values rather than reacting to everything that’s coming at us with an “urgency” tag attached.
Many people find this matrix enormously helpful for at least four reasons :
It’s wonderfully descriptive.
Many people say, “That’s exactly what happens to me! I get so caught up trying to solve crises and meet other people’s priorities (Quadrants I and III), I feel like I have to escape. So I stay up late watching some dumb show on TV or reading some mindless romance
It highlights the importance of proactivity.
Clearly, the most aligned, high leverage optimizers in all areas of life are in Quadrant
II. They are important; but they aren’t urgent. They don’t act on us. As a result, we have to be highly proactive to choose to do them. Of course, we don’t have to do Quadrant II things. We don’t have to take our spouse on a date or read wisdom literature or go on a
THE TIME MANAGEMENT MATRIX
It highlights the importance of investment and continuous improvement.
It helps us understand the importance of working
the system as well as
it. It shows the value of
time regularly in Quadrant II—where it will bring huge returns—instead of merely
time in Quadrants III and IV. As we’ve said, quality family life is an achievement. It takes work. And much of the
It reveals where we can get the time to invest in Quadrant II.
Obviously, we can’t neglect Quadrant I. It’s both urgent
important. But we can move out of Quadrants III and IV. Quadrant III is the biggest time
For these and other reasons, this Time Management Matrix is a
First Things First
Stop Living Your Job, Start Living Your Life: 85 Simple Strategies to Achieve Work/Life Balance
Harvard Business Review on Work and Life Balance (Harvard Business Review Paperback Series)
Off Balance: Getting Beyond the Work-Life Balance Myth to Personal and Professional Satisfaction