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What is the Action Priority Matrix?

What is the Action Priority Matrix?

What is the Action Priority Matrix?

Definition: The Action Priority Matrix is a model that helps people prioritise work by categorising tasks according to their potential Impact and the Effort required.

How Action Priority Matrix Works.

The Matrix works by measuring tasks against two criteria:

"Impact" which refers to the pleasurable consequences that are gained if the task is completed, or the painful consequences we must suffer if the task is ignored.

"Effort" which refers to the difficulty of the task and therefore, the time investment necessary to achieve the task.

How to Use the Action Priority Matrix.

Think of all your tasks and judge each by its Impact (which are the consequences if either done or ignored) and its Effort, (the difficulty and time needed to complete the task).

Plot each task on the Matrix according to its Impact-Effort score.

Then prioritise tasks according to the following principles:

  1. Work Q1 "Major projects" tasks as much as possible, since they are high value and they take a long time to complete, so you cannot afford to procrastinate on them.
  2. Whenever you can, do Q2 "Quick wins" tasks, since they too, are High Impact Value, and can be done quickly.
  3. Delegate Q3 "Thankless tasks" to people who are paid less than you are, since these tasks are of lower Impact value. If you cannot delegate the task, then do only the minimum needed to satisfy the requirements of the task.
  4. Consider not doing the Q4 "Fill ins" activity, or delegate them (since they are of low Impact-value). Use the time saved to crack-on with your "Major Projects" tasks.

Many people procrastinate on their "Major Projects" work because it is complex and difficult. Instead of doing the right thing they "get busy" doing lower value, easy work.

They tick-off many things on their "to do list" and then kid themselves they have had a "productive day", doing many easy, trivial tasks, whilst putting-off the more difficult, important tasks.

Remember that the "high value" QI and Q2 work should take priority over lower Impact value Q3 and Q4 work.

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About the Author: Chris Farmer


Chris Farmer is the founder of the Corporate Coach Group and has many years’ experience in training leaders and managers, in both the public and private sectors, to achieve their organisational goals, especially during tough economic times. He is also well aware of the disciplines and problems associated with running a business.

Over the years, Chris has designed and delivered thousands of training programmes and has coached and motivated many management teams, groups and individuals. His training programmes are both structured and clear, designed to help delegates organise their thinking and, wherever necessary, to improve their techniques and skills.

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Further Reading in Time Management

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