A lot of people use time management tools, but there is one tool that has become very popular in particular-the matrix. The term “matrix” comes from Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, an organizational psychologist who studied how individuals manage their time. He referred to it as a “time structure” or “schedule.”
The matrix was first developed by Stephen Covey, an acclaimed business author and speaker. Since then, many other experts have adapted the concept for different purposes.
Some create task-by-task matrices to organize tasks more effectively, while others make time allocation (or budgeting) matrices to determine what you should be spending your time on.
Regardless, all versions focus on two things: 1) understanding how much time each activity takes 2) determining which activities are less important than others and thus can be done with less time. This helps you get everything done without wasting too much time on unimportant jobs.
Here’s the thing about time management though – it doesn’t work if you don’t do it. You need to set aside enough time every day to complete all your assignments, otherwise you’ll never finish anything!
That’s why the second part of the matrix matters so much – it gives you insight into whether you’re giving yourself enough time to do the most essential tasks.
Read chapter 1
Now that you have all of your resources in order, it is time to use this information! To do so, first you will need to read a few chapters of our book series called Thrive or Die with No Money. This way you are not starting from scratch when you come back to organize your life.
We recommend going through Chapters 2-5 as they go over Step One (create an index card for each item) and then moving onto Chapter 6 which goes into more detail about how to use the matrix effectively.
Once you have done that, you can begin organizing by category and developing strategies beyond just using the matrix. You could create an additional column under priority, for example, where you make decisions based on what matters most to you. Or you could add another row to track time spent, such as creating the index cards or reading the books that matter most to you.
You may also want to think about investing in software that helps you manage your time efficiently. There are many options out there, but try them out for yourself to see if it works for you.
Read the time management matrix
The first step in using this tool effectively is by reading the whole thing thoroughly. There are some great tips within the reader comments too! Once you have read it, make sure to take notes or do quick reviews as you go through your schedule.
The time management matrix was designed to help you organize your time into different categories and understand what each category requires. This helps you determine how to best use your time on a daily basis and also gives you an idea of where your time goes “by design”.
By understanding why certain times are there and how to better utilize them, you will begin to see positive changes in both your work and personal life.
Practice using the matrix
Now that you have your time slots organized, it is time to use the system! Start by looking through your schedule for the next few days to determine how much time you have available.
Once you know what time you have allocated for each task, then you can begin creating an order of priority for the tasks. First, organize the columns according to the most important task first.
Next, organize the rows in numerical order from the least urgent task to the most urgent task. Once both are completed, simply drag and drop the appropriate box or row onto the column of the next highest importance task.
When all boxes and rows are in place, test your system out! If there’s something you need to do that doesn’t fit into the timetable, move one of the lower-priority items up a notch until you reach the limit of your time. This will help you identify which tasks require more of your time than expected so that you can address them later.
Create your own matrix
The best way to use this tool is not as a template, but rather you can create your own system that works for you. You get all of the benefits of the matrix without having to re-create the components yourself or find someone else’s version that looks similar to what you want.
The key component in any time management system is keeping track of everything. This includes tasks, people, events, and anything related to those things (for example, did I call so and so today?).
You will need to be very detail oriented to do this effectively. Make sure to use an app that helps you organize and monitor all areas of your life. There are many apps out there that offer some form of time tracking functionality.
Take baby steps
Even if you have no experience using time management tools, there is still hope for you! Creating a system that works for you takes time and effort, so do not get discouraged or give up.
Do not assume that your current method of organization is perfect – it may need some tweaking. Try out different types of time tracking apps before finding one that you feel is worth investing in.
There are many free resources available online where you can find tips and tricks for improving your time management. You might also come across reviews of various apps.
By having second-hand knowledge, you will be able to make an informed decision as to whether or not this tool is right for you.
Make it actionable
While the matrix is very helpful in organizing your time, you must make it work for you. If you are not able to implement all of the components into your daily routine, then you will be wasting your money.
You should only purchase the program if you can use the tools within the system effectively.
There are several ways to use the matrix beyond just creating columns and rows. For example, you do not have to create columns or rows per unit tasks, you can instead organize by importance (column) and urgency (row).
This way you can see at a glance which items require your attention and what needs to be done soon. You can also add additional columns and/or rows as needed.
Develop your team
As mentioned earlier, time is a valuable asset that everyone has but very few people make the most of it. This can be attributed to how they manage their time in terms of productivity and efficiency as well as whether or not they are using the right tools for the job.
If you look at someone who has lots of things going on, they may seem busy, productive and efficient, but something about them says ‘I have too much on my plate’. They may put off doing anything until they get some free time so they can focus, which only adds to the problem.
This was the case with many professionals before technology made our lives more mobile. You would spend hours sitting at your desk waiting for messages and calls, leaving little time for other activities. Technology has now made it possible to work anywhere and anytime, so why don’t we?
Some of us still prefer working from home because we value our private life, but this doesn’t always help when the rest of our family consists of us and the office! If you feel like you’re spending all your time at work, there are ways to change this.
You can start by giving those around you permission to ask you questions about what you do and why. Don’t worry about looking good while you’re putting in hard work, just keep showing up every day and let your achievements speak for themselves.
A lot of time management strategies that work for someone may not work for you. You have to be able to evaluate whether or not their method works for you before investing in it.
If one of these methods doesn’t seem to be working, try another one!
It might help you find your perfect timing technique.
There is no wrong way to manage your time, so do what works for you.
As mentioned earlier, if a method isn’t working, there are other ones out there! Try something new every once in a while; this will give you more insights into effective time management.