Tag Archives: urgent v/s important matrix

Gamify Time Management

Sometimes life is too chaotic for one to make any sense. Although you are not over-worked or spending sleepless nights but still you find yourself in midst of a battlefield filled with conflicting priorities. Managing under such circumstances is not stress and sometimes can lead to conflict within team members as well.

Among the time management tools and concepts available to us, the urgent-important matrix is one of the most helpful. I had talked about it long ago in one of my blogs Urgent v/s Important Matrix , but am revising this today with more perspectives which I build with my team members who have started using this as a way to communicate and align to each other for creating maximum focus and momentum on goals that are important to them as well across the group

I would have not done a good job of providing some history around this simple tool , so for the inquisitive one here is the background on how this framework or concept came into being:

“This concept was popularised by Stephen Covey in his book The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, but it was actually used by U.S. president Dwight D. Eisenhower long before Covey made it famous. That’s why this method is also often referred to as the Eisenhower Matrix. “


Multiple Figures

My objective of using the matrix is not only to organise self but also try to find management synergy across the teams and us this as a tool for alignment between various people trying to work in an agile and shared environment.

First figure explains principles of management around how to create Focus on urgent and important tasks and use power of delegation to deal with things that might not be important but are urgent. Delegation allows those tasks to be attended for as they are urgent but via a different resource pool for whom it becomes a focus a area. Imagine this as a connected web of focused tasks.

While I recommend to use power of negotiation to determine whether Important but rather not urgent task should have your mind-share or can it be moved to a zone of backlog which is not urgent and not important. In turn imply Kanban then to manage backlog.

At all times your focus area or rather urgent and important task list should be lean with a constant decision making process to shift them through various traversal paths as shown in last figure in my napkin notes. The idea is to keep the list lean , eliminate tasks by using power of negotiation and delegation. Create backlog and then manage it effectively to feed back your focus areas.

The second figure in my notes is kind of interesting illustration on how agile play into this and what velocity you should maintain at times deal with quadrants. Focus with high velocity to burn your urgent and important task. Most important to achieve business goals (Learn fast / fail fast). Negotiation will be a slow burn process whilst backlog tends to remain still. It is important to note that we should maintain high velocity for for urgent but not important tasks as they have a burden on your system and you would not want the focus areas to be impacted at any times by this quadrant. That is why power of delegation along with right skill sets tends to help a lot while we deal with this quadrant.

Hope you find these new explanations and illustrations useful while you manage your work or even for that matter personal life. I like to see this as gamification of work that adds a fun element when various team members talk this language and create a momentum that is required to execute business operations in a steadfast mode.

Urgent v/s Important Matrix

It’s been time since I wrote something and much is attributed to my own inability to manage as well as do things which I would love to do. This post is a reflection of a tool which can help all of us (including me) to remain focused. Nothing which I invented but again as I said earlier, my posts are more about what I learn/observe or get as guidance from my peers in industry. The tool carries a little treatment from principles of mathematics and how I wonder that this subject finds its way in almost everything which we do!!

Ever thought of prioritizing your tasks and making an effort to remain on-course to complete what you aimed for? We all start our day with an activity list. Some make it in form of notes whilst other would end with making a mind map of it but everybody does have a loose sense of what they are going to do. If you were to survey people and ask them what percentage of activity they really got accomplished, I am sure with certain level of confidence that it would not be a very great percentage to be pleased about personally.

We may start our day by reaching office, engage ourselves with some kind of beverage (non-alcoholic!!) and look at our list of activities. One gets to start to try and accomplish what he embarked upon just to be interrupted by an urgent work which his / her boss handed over just now and needs by noon before lunch!!! And yes this is the start of the end of your prioritization because now you have something which did not find place when you actually planned your day.

It is hard to make somebody visualize this, so I will draw a rough picture of what I am about to explain:

Urgent v/s Importan Matrix

The tool itself is very simple treatment of scatter chart and does not much explain once drawn, so I would not spend time explain what is shown above but would recommend a fun exercise to graph your activity chart on this matrix and see how it helps you to remain focused by clustering similar activities together in quadrants of urgent v/s important. When you see yourself doing this against a timeline chart it allows you derive goals, which can span from being daily to whatever time horizon you wished for.

One would argue how this can stem the sudden inclusion of tasks that disturb our schedule? , well the beauty of this is that it shows how much you deviate and how long you keep deviating by certain occurrence of tasks that necessarily when you analyze may not always turn out to be for example hitting the first quadrant right away. We generally tend to have impulsive reaction to what we get on ad-hoc basis and don’t process information is usual manner considering either time paucity or in general inability to either say “No” or setting right expectation about when we would be able to respect that activity with our time. We have tendency to forget that our time box is only as much that quadrant will map out or show, and there is no concept of infinity applied to it!!! , thus leading to stretched hours and undue stress to complete our work. In the end we end up having what we call competing priorities with no rules. The ability to think through in the manner explained above may help us provide some ground rules on how to make our priorities compete for the one common resource “Our Time”.