Kill the Waste Quadrant to Improve Efficiency

The time management matrix isn’t new. Stephen Covey introduced it in the 1980s. And I bet that you understand time management skills. So why then is it so difficult to implement these skills? I believe it is because people become overwhelmed by their important and urgent tasks, so they resort to tasks of least resistance – those taks that are not important and not urgent – the “waste” tasks.

Let’s have a look at the time management matrix to better understand the “waste” quadrant:

Let’s face it, if you’re spending too much time in quadrant 4 (the “waste” quadrant), you can really eat up a lot of your time and create backlog at work, leading to stress and overwhelm. The best way to stop wasting time on tasks that are neither important or urgent is to spend ten minutes each and every day planning your activities for the next day. Ten minutes. That’s all it takes.

Spend the majority of your days working on activities that lead to accomplishing your goals (you do have goals, don’t you?). The way you do this is by focusing on quadrant 2 tasks (important, but not urgent). Sure, you’ll say that’s easier said than done. But it really is easy to accomplish. Here’s what a day working in quadrant 2 might look like.

  • Upon rising in the morning – Exercise
  • Shower/hygiene
  • Breakfast
  • Work – tackle the first things on your plan and work through your priority items (remember that you spent 10 minutes yesterday planning your work today)
  • Lunch – take lunch with colleagues or friends (skipping lunch to date your computer is non-productive and can lead to a stressful and overwhelming afternoon)
  • After lunch – continue with your work plan
  • End of day – spend 10 minutes on your plan for the next day
  • Go home, spend time with your family, and do things that you enjoy
  • Go to sleep at the same time each day so you are refreshed and energized to tackle tomorrow
  • Repeat

If you can practice this routine for three months, you’ll have built a habit that will help you accomplish your goals, live a relatively stress-free life, and be happier as a result. Now that’s something not to waste.