Nothing By Chance Blog

Time Management

The 4 Quadrant Model

Many people struggle to manage their time. Although there are no magic pills and you can’t get
more than 168 hours in a week, there is an approach to managing your time that allows you
to “find” more time in your day. Over the next 3 columns, we’ll explore proven techniques that
allow you to do more of the things you want.

Let’s break time management into four components: 1) Deciding what to do. 2) Prioritizing
what to do. 3) Focusing on what to do. 4) Staying in the moment. (Or, some might think of this
as “removing distractions.”)

How can you decide what you want to do? Part of the answer is attitude and part is choice. If
you’re at work and something is assigned to you, you might not have the option to say “No”
without unwanted repercussions (can you say “pink slip”?). Changing your attitude towards the
assignment so you’re not fighting it, but welcoming it can often cut time out of the project AND
allow you to do a better job. By the way, this works at home too with activities like mowing the
grass, doing the laundry, painting and other jobs that you don’t like doing.

The choice part of our answer is when we get to choose to do something, to not do it, to
delegate (outsource) it, or to ask for help. A great tool for helping with choice is the Four
Quadrant Time Management Model. Picture a graph where the two axes are “Important”
and “Urgent”. Some things are Important AND Urgent. These are Quadrant 1 (Q1) and should
be done now. Some things are Important but NOT Urgent. These are Quadrant 2 (Q2) and will
be done, but can wait. These are things like planning, preparing for meetings, researching a
vacation, etc.

Some things are Urgent but NOT Important. (Q3). These include checking e-mail as soon as
a new message arrives, answering the phone when it rings and you’re not expecting a call, etc.
These things should be ignored or done on your time frame. No catastrophe will happen if you
don’t look at e-mail for an hour. (And if something is urgent, why send it in an e-mail? A call to
your cell phone or a text is better!)

Finally, there are things which are NOT Urgent and NOT Important. (Q4). Why you would ever
spend time here is unknown! (But we all do it!) These things either get delegated to someone
else’s Q1 or Q2 (because it’s their job not yours) or tossed.

So what makes an item Important or Urgent? That’s what you get to decide. Put parameters
in place and stick with them. There will be different “urgency-” and “importance-qualifiers” for
everyone. Knowing yours and knowing what works best for you will take a little practice but will
pay big dividends. By focusing you on the RIGHT things (Q1, Q2) and avoiding wasting time on
the WRONG things (Q3, Q4) you can have more of what you want!

Next time: Prioritizing!

  1. Gerard Hilt
    Gerard Hilt09-19-2012

    There are really pleasant apps and also a wonderful collection. You should add PicSay app too in the list.

    • Andreen

      Aw, this was a really nice post. is really good. In idea I would like to put in writing like this additionally – taking time and actual effort to make a very good article… but what can I say… I procrastinate a lot and by no means seem to get something done.

  2. Justin Dubbin
    Justin Dubbin09-19-2012

    I am curious, I recently learned of a profile that was created falsely on just one with the social websites I won’t name. I was suspicious that the person wasn’t real so I used a combination of TinEye and the Google Reverse Photo Imaging web page to uncover the various times these images had been used. Nevertheless I’ve been given images that I uploaded from the same person and cannot locate using these research engines and feel someone else’s photos happen to be stolen claiming to be someone else entirely. Most on the photographs are consistent with all the same two people in the photographs but I guess since they were not used in some advertised form they are not searchable? Is it possible to search “real” photos to verify if they are attached to someone else’s social web-site?

    • Vicky

      Another reason I’m aknisg about your desk space is because it can tell a lot about the way you work. A chaotic desk is often a sign that you’re trying to work on too many projects at once – or it could be you’re having trouble prioritising because everything seems to be equally urgent.

  3. Kairi

    It’s always a relief when someone with obvious extpreise answers. Thanks!

    • Nikita

      What a pleasure to meet someone who thinks so cerlaly