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The Achiever Matrix

Updated: Aug 18, 2021

The Achiever Matrix, created by Stephen Covey (Author of 7 habits of highly effective people), is made up of four quadrants and helps you prioritise tasks based on their importance; allowing you to manage your time better and achieve more.

We all live with time pressures but taking a step back looking at the tasks and where we are spending the majority of time within the matrix can be very helpful.

Quadrant 1 is The Quadrant of Urgency:

This quadrant represents tasks which are both urgent and important. These tasks might be handling an unhappy customer, meeting a deadline, dealing with a crisis, or undertaking urgent re-work.

While we must all spend some time in Q1 at various points, many of these activities were important before they became urgent through procrastination or lack of planning and risk management.

Quadrant 2 is The Quadrant of Quality:

These are the tasks that are important but not urgent. These tasks relate to planning, anticipating and minimising problems, empowering others, building relationships, and developing skills.

Ignoring tasks in this quadrant will increase the size of Q1, as those important but not urgent tasks become urgent over time. On the other hand, investing time in Q2 will reduce the size of Q1.

We must focus on the tasks in Q2 and spend most of our time working here.

Quadrant 3 is The Quadrant of Deception:

These are the tasks that are urgent but not important. The noise of urgency creates an illusion of importance, but the activities within this quadrant are usually only important to someone else. These can include phone calls, meetings, emails, and drop-in visitors.

We often end up spending a lot of time in this quadrant, meeting the needs of others, while fooling ourselves that we’re working in Q1. Tasks in Q3 should be delegated to others where possible to free up your time to work in Q2.

Quadrant 4 is The Quadrant of Waste:

These are the tasks which are not urgent and not important. These can include junk emails, some phone calls, time wasters, and ‘busywork’.

We know we shouldn’t spend any time at all in this quadrant, but sometimes we get weary from being tossed between quadrants 1 and 3, so we escape to Q4 for time out. Q4 is not about survival, it’s deterioration. It may initially feel nice, but it’s empty time and ultimately not satisfying.

Which quadrant did you spend the most time in over the past week?

Most people hang out a lot in Q3 - the Quadrant of Deception. The cost of letting urgency drive you is that you’re not spending time on the quality tasks that are going to improve your business.

The best way to free up your time to work in Q2 is to review your Q3 activities. These tasks may appear important at first glance, but how important are they really? Reclaim time lost to the deception of urgency and spend that time in the Quadrant of Quality.


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