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How to Use Time Management Matrix

3 Min Read
November 03, 2022

There are 168 hours in a week. This does not seem like a lot when you see it from a student's perspective. You probably don't feel like you have enough time to complete all of your homework, projects, and study for tests. But a time management matrix can help you prioritize your work better.

It's no surprise that many of us want to make better use of our time. The time management matrix helps you understand how you spend your time and productivity. 

Consider how you now spend your time as a student on various activities throughout a typical day, week, or year. You can use the time management matrix below to start your own as you read through this article.

Is the task important? 

Essential tasks are those necessary for your success in life. For many people, this means 

  • Learning and working for a career
  • Maintaining and improving one's health
  • Spending time with family and friends

Important activities are those that help you achieve your objectives. These can be found in the time management matrix's Q1 and Q2.

Unimportant tasks are things that don't help you achieve your goals, like

  • Surfing the Internet for memes
  • Watching a whole season of a TV series
  • Browsing social media

Focusing on these unimportant tasks rather than the important ones leads to a lack of progress as you are not moving towards your goals. These tasks exist in Q3 and Q4.

Is the task urgent?

Asking this question is probably a good indicator of the amount of stress you feel like a student. Urgent tasks are close to the deadline and ask you to finish them as quickly as possible. They are Q1 and Q3 tasks. 

Q1 tasks are Urgent/Important, and 'must do' tasks that require your immediate attention! 

For example:

  • Finishing the assessment by the assessment deadline 
  • Studying for tomorrow's exam 

Q3 tasks are not that important but they are asking for your attention. For example,  interruptions at home, emails, etc.

Use the matrix to prioritize your time 

Sometimes, you might dwell on a task longer than you needed. This is because you probably want to clear out the most important and most urgent tasks first. Try to prioritize your time on the important task first, be it urgent or not. On the other hand, the cause of the time management problems is spending too much time in Q3 and Q4. The solution for your time management problems is to:

  • Reduce your time in Q3 and Q4 and spend more time on Q2. Use your academic planner and your study schedule to do this. By spending your time on Q2 activities you devote time to important activities before they become urgent. Don't make postponing your responsibility a habit. It will be bad for you in the future.
  • Focus your immediate attention in Q1. 

Good student time management involves more Q2 time

You are probably aiming to be as productive as possible with the time management matrix. If good time management involves more in Q2, how can you get more time in this section? You can spend more time in Q2 by 

  • Clarifying what is essential
  • Knowing what your time wasters are
  • Using a student planner 
  • Maintaining good study techniques

What do you think? A time management matrix is important to help you develop a good time management habit. It will help you get your days in order and keep your day from running you. Once you use it, you might realize that you have time to research your future, start a personal project, or prepare your uni application.

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