The Time Management Matrix is from The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People by Steven Covey. This book saved my sanity. I found myself daily getting sidetracked and diverted from my To Do list by what everyone else thought was the top priority. It was their priority, of course, not mine, and I had a bad habit of wanting to please everyone. So what happens is that the last person to hand you a "priority" gets bumped to the top of the list. If you don't set your own priorities, you will be tossed like a bottle on the sea. Stephen Covey simplified it immensely with his 4 quadrants in the Time Management Matrix.
Quadrant I Activities: URGENT + IMPORTANT
Quadrant II Activities: NOT URGENT but IMPORTANT
Recognizing new opportunities
Quadrant III Activities: URGENT and NOT IMPORTANT
Interruptions, some calls
Some mail, some reports
Proximate, pressing matters
Quadrant IV Activities: NOT URGENT and NOT IMPORTANT
Trivia, busy work
Some phone calls
Covey says that many of us spend most of our timein Quadrant IV and almost no time in Quadrant II.
Consider the activities shown in each quadrant:
I. URGENT and IMPORTANT
Clearly, these activities should take first priority. However, your long term goal should be to reduce time spent here by prevention, preparation, etc. (see Quadrant II).
II. NOT URGENT but IMPORTANT
The key to success in gaining control of your time priorities is to focus on activities in this quadrant. If you are currently doing very little here, begin by carving out a small amount of time each day and building on it.
III. URGENT and NOT IMPORTANT
Many of us get trapped by other people's sense of urgency telling us what is important. Allowing your priorities to fall here can result in a frenzied rush to get "things" done, followed by a sense of emptiness and lack of satisfaction.
IV. NOT URGENT and NOT IMPORTANT
Obviously, minimize time spent in activities in this quadrant.
I wish you luck with this and warn you that you have to be ever vigilant about it. There will always be someone who wants to revise your priorities