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Time Management Skills Training - Prioritisation Matrix

Time management skills training - Prioritisation matrix

The time management prioritisation matrix

Time management is the art of doing the right thing, at the right time, which will result in producing the greatest value for yourself and your organisation, per hour.

In order to do that, you must be able to evaluate tasks according to a correct method that will allow you to decide, which task should take precedence over which.

The way to do that is to measure everything you do against two criteria:

  1. Alue of the task.
  2. Deadline pressure.

1.Value of the task

This relates to the degree to which the activity moves you towards the object of your organisational goals. If the completion of the task would make a significant contribution to your organisational goals, then the task should be prioritised over those that do not.

2. Deadline pressure

This denotes the amount of time that exists between the present moment and the time by which the task is expected to be completed.

The time management prioritisation matrix

  1. With these two concepts in mind, imagine a graph with the "up and down" axis (Y axis) labelled "Value: high to low",
  2. And the left to right axis (x axis) labelled "Deadline pressure, high to low".

That simple graph gives us a matrix (a four square grid in your mind's eye) for four possible types of activity:

  • Q1
  • Q2
  • Q3
  • Q4

Q1 High value High deadline pressure activity

This is work that must be done because:

It has a lot of value (money) associated to it, and
It is late!

We call this type of work a Q1 Crisis. High value, late work.
Do you ever have HIGH value, late work on your to do list?
Label all these tasks Q1 CRISIS! : These must be done today!

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Q2 High value but NOT deadline driven

Q2 tasks are those that you must do, but you do not have to do them today.
They include your planning, preparation, prevention, continuous improvement activities.
They include your recuperation, health, relationship building, marketing and maintenance.
These are HIGHLY valuable activities but because they do not have to be done today the common mistake is to put them off till later.

Here is a catch phrase I want you to be VERY wary of:

"We will cross that bridge when we come to it."

Over use of this short phrase will cause you to procrastinate on the "High value but not yet deadline driven" activity until it too becomes a Q1 crisis! (See above).

Don't put off Q2. Do it today, immediately after Q1
Most people don't do Q2 work, they do their Q3 work instead:

Q3 Lower value but high deadline pressure

In the minds of many, Q3 work "Lower value but higher deadline pressure" often, mistakenly takes precedence over Q2 work.

Q3 work includes: Low value meetings, e mails, low value interruptions, distractions, mobile phone texts, low value paperwork, low value conversations of all kinds.

We call this quadrant "Q3 busy" work.
Q3 busy means: you are OCCUPIED but you are not necessarily adding any value to your day. I.e. you are; "Q3 busy but non productive".
Do you ever have a busy but non productive day? (Week?)

We become caught up in Q3 busy work easily because:

  1. We can
  2. They seem "urgent" in the sense that they are immediate, i.e. happening NOW.

But Q3 busy work takes too much time away from Q2 High value work.
And THAT is the major error that nearly everyone makes.

Here is your goal. To complete your Q2 tasks before you need to, by limiting the time you spend in Q3 busy work.

Q4 work: Low value and Low deadline pressure

This is obvious "waste of time activity". It includes: Gossip, mindless complaining, office politics and love affairs, plotting, illegitimate use of the web to look at holidays or shopping on line. These are blatant waste of time activities.

Most people do not do too much blatant time wasting because it is too obvious. But SOME DO!

We call this sector "Q4 fruitless".

Question: Do you engage in any fruitless activity at work?
The difference between a good time manager and a poor one, is this:
Good time managers do things correctly: they work Q1, then Q2, they manage Q3 to make it small, and, if they have any time left over, they then indulge in Q4 fruitless.

The average person (poor time manager) instead, does this:

Q1 first, and then Q3 BUSY work, then Q4 fruitless waste of time activity, then, if they have any time left over, they plan for next month.
But they don't have time left over, so they say "We will cross that bridge when we come to it."
They don't plan or prepare for next month: Which sets the scene for next month's Q1 crisis.

Here are your goals:

To complete your Q2 tasks before need, by limiting the time you spend in Q3 busy work.

Memorise the definitions for:

  • Q1 Crisis work
  • Q2 Productive work
  • Q3 Busy work
  • Q4 Fruitless work

3. Don't have "busy but non productive" days (Q3 over Q2)

4. Do have "Productive, NON busy days" (Q2 over Q3)

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