Time Management

How To Prioritise Your Time As A Leader?

A practical model for time management.

Stephen Covey is one of the most successful self-help authors of all time. In this short “LRC bitesize”  we will review his time management model and consider his thoughts on how you can use it.

Covey recognises that we often have different roles and needs within our lives, such as family, work, community, time for ourselves, recreation and other activities. Covey’s time management model is based on the assumption that we should manage time around what is important, NOT what is urgent, and that this should be carried out and planned across the different roles.

The idea is that all activities can be distinguished using two categories, importance and urgency. Covey uses a four-box matrix to demonstrate this as shown below. Urgency is represented on the horizontal axis, and activities can be placed either in the ‘urgent and important’ or ‘not urgent, but important’ box. Importance is represented on the vertical axis in the same way.

Image of Stephen Covey`s time management matrix.

“The key is not to prioritise what’s on your schedule, but to prioritise your priorities”

Stephen R. Covey

How should the model be used?

Covey recommends listing the relevant activities and then placing them in the appropriate quadrant of the matrix. High urgency/high importance projects (or crises) should be kept to a minimum if possible, as people cannot handle too many of these. If there are lots of these, you should consider asking for help or delegating responsibility. Urgent but unimportant tasks that have been listed should be minimised.

Here is an example:

Example of Stephen Covey`s time management matrix in use,

Covey believes that the key to success is concentrating on highly important, but non-urgent issues, across all the identified roles. These, he argues, are the most important in terms of self development, but are the ones that are most commonly ignored.

What are the practical uses?

By looking at the whole picture, you have the opportunity to balance work and other priorities in your life. Once you have categorised your activities according to their importance and urgency, you can more easily write an effective planner, i.e. outlining plans and preparing for the long term. The following will help you in your future planning:

  • Balance – Between the type of tasks you undertake. The planner should include, and help you to focus on, how to establish a healthy work-life balance.
  • Focus – The planner should encourage focus on important life as well as work issues
  • Coherence – Within the work you undertake, especially if you include values and personal goals.
  • Flexible – The planning tool is your servant, not your master!
  • People dimension – This tool, Covey argues, will help to improve your relationships with others.

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LRC Bitesize

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Hi! I`m Chris Webb, I live in the South East and started Leaders Retail Consultancy in 2019. Before freelancing, I was a senior retail leader for a number of the UK’s top retailers gaining experience over 23 glorious years. When I am not coaching I enjoy spending time with the family or in the gym.

Click here for more information about Leaders Retail Consultancy


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