Revisiting Stephen Covey Time Management Grid

I was in the car with a friend the other day, and we started talking about time organization. He mentioned about doing more things that are important for the future but seem less urgent.  I had read this somewhere and when I went home, I looked through my notes and found Stephen Covey’s 7 Habits of Highly effective people. I popped on the audio book version (which is great!) and reminded myself about time management. I honestly loved this part of the book most of all.

Most important lesson? Concentrate on things that are important but not urgent. 

covey time management grid

Stephen Covey Time Management Grid

Time is the most important thing in your life.

With more time, you can make more money. With more time, you could read and continually improve yourself. With more time, you can share it forever with friends and family.  Time is finite, so make the most of it. Don’t waste a single bit. Manage it well and make a dent. To help understand this matrix, I’ll go through some of the main points:

Urgent – Important (MANAGE):

  • These things are your crisis. You got to do them, and having a lot of them is not a good sign.
  • Your family’s in the hospital? urgent. Deadlines that have to be met? urgent. You HAVE do these things. They are both important and have a time constraint on them.
  • You inevitably have these, the less the better.

Urgent – NOT Important (AVOID):

  • Covey goes through the three Ps.
  • Proximate: When the phone rings, it’s right in front of you. It now appears urgent since it’s within your proximity. Hence, you feel like picking it up. However, if it’s not an important call (from work, a family member, or someone you care about) and you are doing something that is important to you – it can wait.
  • Pressing: Other people are expecting something from you. THEIR needs and problems are being transferred to you. Ignore these as much as you can. Why waste your time with OTHER people’s problems when you have to concentrate on your own?
  • Popular: Shallow relationships, or certain meetings to go to because you ‘have’ to but don’t NEED to. I’ve noticed that as I spend more time with people I care about, the less time I’m spending with others that are using me for their own need. Shallow relationships are hard to notice at first, but as you start to become clear in your mission and where you want to head, you will start to realize who you should be hanging around.

Not Urgent – Important (FOCUS):

  • You will focus on these parts in your life as much as you can.
  • Planning: Don’t plan day by day, that ends up becoming a list of URGENT things, instead, plan your week ahead.  If at all possible, plan your month ahead as well.
  • Self Improvement: Always sharpen the saw. Don’t keep chopping away at something that isn’t work. It all boils down to you. Improve yourself. Read more – not junk reading, begin reading classics, non fiction and stuff that can only improve you. Learn new things, start a new language.
  • Exercise: Keep fit. Go the gym.
  • Relationship building: Improve the relationships that matter most to YOU. This could be your family and friends. Perhaps business partners or founders. Your Mentors. Regardless – always be sincere. You want to be in their presence and they hopefully want to be in yours.
  • Meditation & Relaxation: This is hard to do, especially if you want to go out there and make some impact. Spend 5 to 10 minutes relaxing. I use the guided meditation videos on Youtube or even on Audible very useful.

Not Urgent – Not Important (LIMIT):

  • Limit your time doing pointless things. Many parts of social media can be mindless. Surfing the web for no reason. All these things can be distracting and make you forget what you want most in life. Don’t get distracted. 

If you have the time (and I’m sure you can find it 😉 ) give the book ago, or at least listen to the audiobook version. Steven Covey’s 7 Habits of Highly Effective People is well worth it.