Using Stephen R. Covey's Time Matrix to get your time back.

One of the most common challenges I hear from entrepreneurs and their teams, is that there just are not enough hours in the day.  The reality is however, that we all have 24 hours; the challenge is, knowing how to use that time effectively.

To help you to better understand how you are spending your time, I will be using Stephen Covey’s Time Management Matrix.

This useful tool will help you to identify your time thieves; it looks at where you ARE spending your time, versus where you SHOULD be spending your time.

Analysing your time

This matrix represents 24 hours:

As business owners, you will encounter tasks that vary in demand and importance.

Quadrant 1

Urgent & Important: This quadrant represents demand.

These are the tasks which must be completed right away or present a risk to your business. This box is where you do your fire-fighting; your behaviour here is purely reactive.

Quadrant 2

Not Urgent, but Important: This quadrant represents direction.

These are all the things you know you should do because they’re important, however because they’re not urgent, they usually get put on the back burner. Things like business planning or looking after your health.

If continually ignored, tasks in this quadrant can eventually become urgent and important; your behaviour whilst working on them is proactive.

Quadrant 3

Urgent, but not important: This quadrant represents distraction.

These are the tasks that are urgent for the business, but not important for you specifically to complete. For example, a team member comes to you with a problem, and rather than equip them to deal with it, you say “leave that with me, I’ll sort it.”

Tasks that fall into this quadrant are generally somebody else’s urgent and important; something that should have been delegatedto a member of your team.

Quadrant 4

Not urgent or important: This quadrant represents delusion.

This is the time-wastingbox. An example of this would be a business owner tidying up the warehouse.

Interestingly, there is a direct correlation between direction and demand: any work undertaken on tasks in quadrant 2, will eventually reduce the amount of time you need to spend in quadrant 1.

Your behaviour when working in quadrant 2 is proactive and is therefore preventing the fires in quadrant 1, from igniting at all.

Prioritising tasks

To better explain how your time spent in demand, distraction and delusion can affect your productivity (direction), I will use the rock, pebbles and sand analogy.

Imagine that your 24 hours is represented by a large empty vase.

At your disposal, you have rocks, pebbles, sand and water. Each of these items represents one of the four time quadrants and how you choose to fill the vase, will determine how much you can fit into your 24 hours.

If you fill your vase with water, sand and pebbles, you will never be able to fit the rocks into your business to take control.

You must assign time to the important things, or you will never achieve them; you must put the rocks in first.

Have you ever heard the phrase: ‘monkey see, monkey do’?

The reality of the matter is, if you’re spending most of your time in demand, distraction and delusion – your team will be too.  If you are dysfunctional in your time management, your employees and therefore your business will no doubt reflect that.

Proactiveness starts in the direction quadrant.

If you are interested in using the Covey Matrix to analyse your business and would like to do some exercises to establish where you are spending your time, head on over to Boolkah.com and get in contact.

Time is finite; unlike money, once you have spent it, you can never earn it back.

It’s important to get it right first time.

Remember, failing to learn, is learning to fail.

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