How 4 Little Squares Can Make You Happier and More Productive Almost Immediately

Every day, non-urgent things pop up into our lives that we quickly scratch down on a to-do list or type in our calendars for us to do “later.” And then we never look at them again.

Our lists get longer and longer until we end up pushing the non-urgent matters to the very bottom where they are almost not visible and we focus on the stuff that is due TODAY.

I wanted to share with you an extremely helpful tool to manage your to-do list and make sure that your very important yet non-urgent tasks still make their way to the top of the list. I introduce to you… THE MANAGEMENT MATRIX. This brilliant tool was created by Stephen Covey and it is the simplest, yet most effective way of organizing everything in your life into 4 small squares.

Sounds easy, right? Well it is! Let me show you how it works…

So, on the top, we can see there is an “urgent” category and a “not urgent” category and on the left side we can see there is an “important” category and a “not important” category. I will go over each of these combinations in detail with you.

  • BOTH Urgent & Important These my friend are the tasks you have had on your I MUST GET THESE DONE TODAY to-do list. This could be anything from a big project that is being presented this afternoon to your house is burning down into flames. These tasks MUST be done NOW.
  • Urgent BUT Not Important: Let’s say you have a co-worker that NEEDS you all the time… their requests for help are minimal issues and they mainly just sit in your office and distract you from your work. This may be “urgent” for your coworker who needs your help NOW but it certainly is not important for you. You love your co-worker and your weekly chats with her but your stuff needs to get done!
  • Not Urgent BUT Important: Are you ever so exhausted or overwhelmed that you need to check out or head to a yoga class so you don’t explode? Yes! And this is where the “not urgent but important” category comes in. you may not actually explode if you don’t relax your mind, but healthy relaxation is a very important part of life. It is not urgent by any means, but it is very important. Everything from building real and healthy relationships to planning a trip with your family for next summer fall into this category.
  • Not Urgent AND Not Important: This category is literally ALL of my favorite things… shopping, watching movies, social media, gossiping. Even though this category is fun and exciting, there is a time and a place for them. Sadly, these things should not butt to the head of the line. It’s important to keep this in mind when deciding what activities and tasks will go in what category. 

Now that you have all of the quadrants down, it is time to learn what to do with all of the different organized tasks. 

  • BOTH Urgent & Important: You need to MANAGE these tasks. These needs have to be dealt with immediately and with care. If something is important and urgent then you need to do it first.
  • Urgent BUT Not Important: As hard as it may be, you need to AVOID spending time on these. Getting your co-worker out of your office or answering a call that is unnecessary will just distract you from your overall productivity goal.
  • Not Urgent BUT Important: These tasks need to be FOCUSED on. These are the main priorities in the grand scheme of life. Although the matters that are both urgent and important must come first, the tasks in this quadrant will keep you healthy and happy and contribute to a more well-balanced life. So, after you are done taking care of the urgent and important tasks, you’ll want to focus on these!
  • Not Urgent AND Not Important: Although these are my favorite things to do and definitely the most enjoyable, it is important to LIMIT the activities you do in this quadrant because they helping you to be the productive person you want to be. Shopping, social media, watching TV… they can wait until after everything else needs to be done (I know it’s AWFUL, right?)

Hope this helps you to rethink how you spend your precious time and increase both your level of happiness and your productivity.

Get out there and get EVERYTHING done – not just those few things that are due today!

If you ever have any questions don’t hesitate to reach out to me.


  • KC Berry says:

    I’d like to think that I’m an organized person. But, wow! I had never heard of the management matrix. It sounds like it’d be pretty effective. Great (and interesting) post!! 🙂

    • Emily Sunshine says:

      Thanks so much! I’m glad you found it helpful! 😊Sometimes its hard to prioritize everything!

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