The Time We Waste

The following matrix - which masquerades under several names - can be used to analyse how effectively you use your time. It divides your activities into four quadrants:

  • Important and not urgent: Something that is key to your long-term ambitions and goals but doesn't have to be done today.
  • Urgent and important: Something that is critical to your business that must be addressed immediately such as handling a key client situation that could go badly wrong if ignored.
  • Urgent and not important: Things that feel they should be addressed immediately but that could almost certainly be delayed with no adverse consequences.
  • Not important and not urgent: Those things that are the heartbeat of day-to-day office living; constant distractions that feel familiar, are easy but take you no closer to your goals.

And therein lies the risk: think emails, meetings for meetings sake and the ubiquitous "have you got 20 minutes" discussions.

Now analyse your activities over the last few days. Where do they sit?


Most of us lose hours a day or week on not important/not urgent matters and, in so doing, fail to create time for the big strategic decisions - the things that really matter.

Critical self-awareness and monitoring your use of time is an important facet of becoming a more effective leader.

Ask yourself this - would you prefer your boss to be making key strategic decisions or to have an empty inbox?

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