Successfully identifying the different tasks is one half of the time management battle. Managing these priorities with disciplined follow through is the other half. In order to be successful in today's world, the student, business executive, housewife or teacher must be able to identify and follow through with disciplined tenacity.
In their breakthrough time management book The One Minute Manager, Johnson and Spencer developed the following four quadrant graph which can be used by any person seeking to develop a greater control over their time usage. The graph is based on breaking down tasks into 4 categories, and identifying their importance relative to your
this category. Tasks which are not urgent or important can swallow hours of time, like a check written against a zero balance bank account, return nothing. Quadrant 2 tasks are not important, but urgent none the less. Sometime answering the phone or email can seem like an urgent matter. However, even these simple tasks can steal time from more important issues.
Quadrant 3 and 4 are the most important tasks which cross your desk every day. Left unattended, these items typically are those which grow into major issues, or 'forest fires' which will require significant amounts of time and energy to subdue if not handled when they are first identified. Quadrant 4 tasks are already small fires which need immediate attention. Quadrant 3 contains those items which will become forest fires if not managed immediately.
The key to successful time management is identifying first and foremost the quadrant 3 tasks and priorities. According to the authors, these issues will account for 80% of a person's success or failure in live. Quadrant 3 issues can be managed easily with maximum return on the time spent if they are successfully addresses while in quadrant 3. If these tasks grow to be both urgent and important, they will likely move to control the person, rather than the person controlling them. For example, paying government taxes each year is an important, but not urgent matter. However, if a person does not pay taxed or file returns for a number of years, and the matter comes to the attention of the IRS, the person no longer is in control of the process. The government agency will dictate how, and when, and how much will be paid. The agency will control the person rather than the person controlling the simple task of paying taxes little by little.
The second half of effective time management is disciplined follow through. A person can be excellent on determining the priorities of their tasks. However, if he or she does not follow through, and effectively complete the tasks, he or she may as well live with no tasks or to do lists at all. Any person, regardless of talent, intelligence, or income level will be no more effective than his or her willingness to follow through, and do the work.
The world is full of unemployed geniuses. Anyone can have great ideas, and bask their 'fifteen minutes of fame' only to disappear into oblivion. The person who consistently performs his or her prioritized tasks will eventually