Time Management Matrix by Stephen Covey

Have you ever noticed the older we get, the busier we seem to be?

Have you ever gotten frustrated with jotting down all your to- dos in a journal, only to find out that it is tedious to write out repetitive tasks over and over again?

Time Management

I know I definitely belong to this group of people. I remember when I was studying in primary school, my school used to force us to purchase a homework planner. But, I never really use the planner at all as it was organized in a way which I find it quite annoying. In fact, I rather spent my pocket money to buy a normal exercise book and converted it to my own personal homework planner. Guess what? I never forgot what I have for homework and what to bring for lessons the next day ever again in my school life! Morale of the story:

There is no “best” planner. The most effective planner is the one which you can personalize it in a way you find most effective for you.


The Theory Behind Effective Time Management

One of the most famous theory on time management in our history of mankind so far is the Time Management Matrix by Stephen Covey. According to his theory, every task available on this Earth, no matter how mundane it might be, can be categorized into important or not important tasks alongside with the task being urgent or not.

Time Management Matrix

When planning our day ahead, making the urgent and important tasks a priority is a must because it may bring serious consequences if the task is not tackle at all. Moreover, tasks that usually fall into this category can only be completed by us and us only. We are not replaceable and our full attention is needed to handle these problems.


The next category is the important but not urgent tasks. Tasks that fall into this category are the GAME CHANGERS of our life! Upon completing the important and urgent tasks, this should be the area we should shift our focus at as completing these tasks usually helps us to develop our character and knowledge to another level.


Next, we have the not important but urgent tasks. It is true that sometimes we are thrown tasks which seems mundane and unproductive to us. How can we go about it? The answer to it is- DELEGATION. Yup, you heard me. Delegate these tasks to your fellow subordinates whenever possible. Try to minimize time spent in this area as it doesn’t contribute much success factor to your career and life. Learning how to say no is critical to make sure your time is not leeched out by parasitic tasks. If you are finding it difficult to say “No” to others, you must remind yourself constantly:

Always saying yes to others doesn’t mean you are helping them.


Last but not least- The Not Important and Not Urgent Tasks. The solution? Don’t do it at all! While tasks that typically fall into this category are tempting and easy to do, it doesn’t contribute ANYTHING to our life at all! Many people fall into the trap of keeping themselves busy with tasks from this quadrant that they confused themselves with being productive and being busy.


Let me share a typical example of my student life in Oxford according to this time management matrix:

Time Management Matrix by Christopher


Noticed that as a student, I don’t really have many urgent and important tasks relative to the other quadrants. The list will change as our profession and environment changes with time. For example, a person working in large corporate might find their days filled with “unnecessary meetings” from the urgent but not important quadrant.


The list seems so overwhelming! How can I get through all of it?

The answer is: “You don’t!”.

I will share more about how we can use the Pareto Principle, aka “The 80/20 rule” and how to get over procrastination by eating our frog (seriously?) in the next post! Finally, we will explore how we can optimize one of my favorite apps combined with these theories to help you develop your own personalized strategies in time management!


Please feel free to discuss what do you think of the time management matrix ^_^ .Feel free to download the template above and use it in your daily life to analyse your tasks. If you are really serious about improving your productivity in life, share out your time management matrix with us here! Hope you enjoyed reading this!

Remember, there is no right or wrong way of doing things, there is only people who take action and those who don’t.

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2 thoughts on “Time Management Matrix by Stephen Covey

  1. Beng Hock says:

    Great sharing, Chris. You hit the nail on the head. We need to effectively manage our time as God is fair as he gives everyone 24 hours daily.

    1. Christopher says:

      Thank you for your compliment. I hope this post has inspired you in some way to take action! How about sharing your time management matrix with us? I look forward to your sharing~^^

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