Stephen Covey’s Time Management Matrix For Online Marketers

If you have read everything about online marketing but you still feel stuck, one possible reason is because of improper time management.Frankly, I think the title of this article is lame because most people don’t see the importance of time management in making money. If you are thinking of skipping this issue of newsletter, it shows that I’m right. But you will regret!

Trust me. Spend some time reading this article. If you put what I’ve written here into practice, it will help you to make more money online.

Decide to trust me? Ok, let’s jump straight into the right way to manage your time as an online marketer.

Stephen Covey’s Time Management Matrix

The best and simplest time management system I’ve learnt is Time Management Matrix from Stephen Covey. His matrix looks like this:

  Urgent Not Urgent
Important I. (Manage)
crisis, pressing problems, deadline-driven projects, last-minute preparations for scheduled activities
II. (Focus)
preparation, planning, prevention, values clarification, exercise, relationship-building
Not Important III. (Avoid)
interruptions, some calls, some emails, some meetings, responding to some enquiries
IV. (Avoid)
trivia work, junk emails, time wasters, escape activities, viewing mindless TV shows

Apparently if you spend all your time doing things in Quadrant III and IV, you will realize that you are not progressing anywhere.Most people, good employees especially, focus on things in Quadrant I. In the eyes of their boss, they may be a good worker. If you are like most people, you probably spend most of your time doing things in this Quadrant. The problem is there is a limit to what you can achieve.According to Stephen Covey, highly effective and successful people spend most of their time in Quadrant II.Many of you probably have seen this matrix. Ok, let’s twist this matrix a little and apply it to internet marketing.
.Time Management Matrix For Online Marketers

This is the matrix I’m using to manage my work and time (I save it in MS Word so that I can add, edit and delete the activities anytime):

  Urgent Not Urgent
Money Making I. (Do it fast!)

– website improvement that has direct impact on your sales.
– sales order fulfillment that can make more money.
– writing blogs or newsletters.
– liaising with freelancers on existing projects.
– building new money making websites.

II. (Consistency)

– thinking of more ways to monetise your existing websites.
– thinking of new money making website ideas.
– learning more ways other people make money online.
– any activity that can bring in more traffic.
– networking with other marketers.

Not Money Making III. (Do it fast!)

– website improvement for better support but not for making money.
– sales order fulfillment that will not make more money.
– most customer support issues.
– banking activities.
– accounting issues.

IV. (Avoid)

– website improvement only for aesthetic reason.
– some support issues.
– aimlessly surfing the web.
– checking emails every now and then, in between your work.
– most messenger activities
– clearing junk mails.

The difference in my matrix is I’ve changed Important / Not Important to Money Making / Not Money Making.Let me tell you why I come out with this matrix to manage my time……I have been following Stephen Covey’s Matrix but after some time, I realized that I was efficient but my income wasn’t increasing.I found out that the reason was because I had been working hard doing things that were important but not money-making. For example, customer support is important and urgent. But in many cases, they are not money-making. With this matrix, I can now classify my work according to its urgency and profitability. All I have to do now is to make sure that I spend most of my time doing things in Quadrant I and II.
.How I Handle The Tasks In Different Quadrant

Another difference in my matrix is the way I handle the tasks.

Quadrant I and III are urgent matters. For such tasks, I’ll make sure that I get them done within the shortest possible time. The way to achieve this is by focusing. Let’s say you have to build a simple website. Just dedicate 2 or 3 hours and put in your 100% concentration to complete it asap. Don’t answer phone calls, check emails or do anything else.

Quadrant IV are things that you should avoid. Either you get someone else to do them, or you just dedicate the most unproductive hours to complete them asap. For example, I clear my junk emails 3 times a day, one early morning when I turn on my computer while other programs are still loading, one in the afternoon when I come back from lunch and one in the evening just after I wrap up my work and getting ready to pack for home.

Quadrant II contains the hardest things to do. Why do I say that? Because those things are not urgent and you always have urgent matters in Quadrant I and III that you are very tempted to complete. However, things in Quadrant II are the most important activities that will make you the most money!

For me, I just make sure that I consistently work on the activities in Quadrant II. For example, whenever I have time, I’ll write an extra article for directory submission. Almost everyday when I drive, I’ll be strategizing in my mind. If you consistently work on the activities in Quadrant II, your income will inevitably increase in long run.

Give my revised Time Management Matrix a try. Plot this matrix into your MS Word and insert all your outstanding tasks accordingly. Once you plugin your tasks, it will be clear to you how you should spend your next few hours and next few days!

29 thoughts to “Stephen Covey’s Time Management Matrix For Online Marketers”

  1. I find myself doing alot of the good things you posted here but also find myself doing some of the “avoids”.
    This is a great post and hopefully will steer me back onto track.

  2. Good article and advice, and I use a similar

    Often find people get side-tracked and lose focus
    then panic because they are not on track. Take a
    deep breath, work out the priorities and get cracking.

    It’s another Milagro day,

  3. This is the most important subject you will ever hear.
    If you can not use your time well you will never make money or have a good life. Just say thank you Stephen.Thank you Stephen.

    James Jones

  4. Hi Friends,

    I thank you kindly for the quadrant diagram,
    I always learn better with an image in my

    I use flow charts on my legal pad to keep on
    track, and on time…as I age, I’m like a kitten,
    always chasing butterflies, lol.

    When I get distracted, I just look at my legal
    pad, where I check off my goals…then I’m re-focused,
    and when I DO finally check off a goal, I
    celebrate that small accomplishment, and I feel
    better, fresher, more determined to make this
    crazy internet thingy, make our dreams come

    Best Wishes,
    Jeff Davis CEO

  5. Great! Just what I needed to keep me on track. As a newbie, I find that I meander a great deal. I find myself spending too much time with emails when I should be advertising, or learning something new to help my online ventures.

  6. You are totally right, sometimes I get so caught up in emails that I waste so much time! I know that I need to be more time organized and I also need some organizational skills! I have a a space to work in about, probably less than a small closet therefore; I must get some organization going somehow. Not only do I waste time, but also space, there’s just not enough of it. But, I will first work on saving time-no more emails to read when I have to focus on something! That’s it I’m not wasting time anymore time, you’ve convinced me!

  7. This was illuminating! Thank you! I do spend far too much time on things in quadrant 1v, which not only waste time but make my head spin! It makes a lot of sense.

  8. Very valuable information. Efficiency lies in time management. This quadrant clearly shows the focuses and avoids in internet marketing business which is stuffed with so much information that high efficiency simply could not be achieved without a cool mind and time management habit.

    Human beings are habitual creatures. Good habit definitely benefits the one who has formed the habit. It would be wonderful if the successful marketers contribute such healthy working habit tips.

  9. good post, and in fact I am bit on time management sometimes i do think it is time wasting.

    but after reading your post, perhaps I need to rethink again. :)

  10. Kenneth,

    This is a great tool, and one I use. I will just point out to your readers that what goes in each quadrant may vary, especially Quadrant II.

    For myself, I have no problem coming up with new ways to monetise websites, or concepts for money-making websites, or keeping on top of what others are doing to make money online (which is the only reason I stay subscribed to most opt-in email lists).

    Because I do those things without exerting any mental energy, they actually seem to me to happen without taking up any time. I don’t need to allocate time for them.

    However, for me things like running split tests to improve my conversions would fall into Quadrant II. It’s not “urgent”, because sales are happening, but it IS important and I need to set aside time to implement it.

    For me, traffic-generating activities are Quadrant I, because for me they ARE urgent, and I do them first without thinking. Building new money-making sites, which is QI for you, would be QII for me, because I put it off and think of it as “less urgent”, whereas you don’t.

    Each person needs to set up their own four Quadrants based on their own particular perceptions, skills and habits.

    As a business consultant and executive coach, I have used this with a number of people, and they are often remarkably different from one person to the next!

    So, everyone, you first Quadrant II activity is to go over the Quadrants and map them on to your own personal experience and your own business. They will then be even more powerful than they are now.

    (There is a great diagram in Rich Schefren’s Internet Marketing Manifesto that shows about 80 activities required for an internet marketing business – classify each one into one of the four Quadrants, and you will have your own comprehensive, personalised, internet marketing business activity plan.)

    Jenny Ford
    Blogging at

  11. Excellent article. I was familiar with Steve Covey’s original matrix – but love the idea of applying it to Internet Marketing.

    And may I say that LeadsLeap is a great time saver. You can build your list reading ONE mailing per day, and it’s a bonus that the articles are of this quality.

  12. Here are some pointers that should be taken into consideration in setting goals and achieving them.

    Attitude plays a very big role in setting and achieving your goals. You must ask yourself if any part of you or your mind holding you back towards completing your simplest goals? If there are any part of your behavior that is being a hindrance or puts your plans into disarray? If you do have problems in these areas then the immediate thing to do is to address this problem. Solutions may include a visit to a doctor or psychiatrist to control your emotions.

    Careers are made by good time management practice. Failing in a career is often attributed to bad time management. Careers require a lot from an individual which often makes the career the life of the individual. Plan how far do you want to go into your career.

    Education is key in achieving your goals. If your goals require you to have a certain kind of degree or require a certain specialization or demand a certain skill to be developed, make plans in getting the appropriate education.

    Your family should never be left out of your plans. If you are just starting out then you have to decide if you want to be a parent or when you want to be a parent. You also have to know if you really would be a good parent and how well would you relate to extended family members

    Personal financial situations also play a major role in achieving your goals. Have a realistic goal on how much you really want to earn. You also must be able to create plans or stages by which you will be able to reach your earning potential.

    Physically gifted individuals may be able to achieve sports related goals like being in the National Basketball association or National Football League. Determining your physical capabilities should be one of your priorities. Physical limitations could however be conquered with proper planning.

    As the saying goes -‘All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy’, or something to that effect, is by all means true down to the last the letter. Giving yourself a little pleasure: should be included into your plans.

    To start achieving your lifetime goals, set a quarter of a century plan, then break it down to 5 year plans then break it down again to 1 year plans, then 6 month plans then monthly plans, then weekly, then daily.

    Then create a things-to-do list for the day.

    Always review your plans and prepare for contingencies.

    The basics of goal settings should not be so difficult once you get to be familiar with them.

  13. You miss a big piece of what Covey preaches. If you are doing effective planning (i.e. goal and value centered) you will stay in Q2 and avoid all others. You also made a modification of placing all of your values on money. That is a personal choice and not judging you on that. If you were having trouble with the system before your modifications, that would be because in the value/goal process you were not honest with yourself. You tried to please the “system” that in using expamples and bringing in its own bliefs creates a guilt in you if you are not setting goals around family, friends, spirituality, etc. (now that is a whole different discussion as to if you can be fullfilled by not having something other than money driving your life). If you had just focussed on what you have here then you would have had the same info in the fields without retitling.

    Also, it appears that you are planning actions into Q1 when you this is an area that happens but with proper planning you want to avoid this as much as possible.

    Last personal business point. I run a very profitable online, tele, and brick-n-motar business. Customer Service is the most profitable portion on my business. The cost of aquiring new clients is just over 5x what it costs me to generate business from current clients and refferals. I have a lead product that sells for $195. Average completed ticket price is $486.87 and 12-month revenue of 765.09 plus 3.4 refferals. Without customer service it would be ave ticket if $195 and I would think I would be lucky if I could get $300 out of people in a year.

    1. Hi Bill,

      I totally agree with what you say. One should always focus on Q2. I think that’s what I’ve said in the article too.

      I also agree that customer service is very important. It makes or break a business in long-term. The problem is some CS are time-consuming. For example, I receive 100s of CS enquiries from my various websites and if I were to spend time replying all the emails, I’ll have very little time to do other developmental work. That doesn’t mean I ignore CS, but I have to learn how to manage it.

      Lastly, I understand your point about beliefs and value system. It’s a topic not many people understand and discussing it here will confuse readers rather than helping them. Money is never the motivation. Money is not even defined as a value, if you follow the teaching of Tony Robbins.

      The modified Matrix is action orientated and the outcome of it is purely ‘money’. It’s not a ‘balanced’ Matrix for total success in life, like what the original Matrix aims to achieve.

      Thanks for sharing your view. It’s good to have readers like you.

  14. Thanks Kenneth, for writing this up. This is definitely an important aspect in running an online buisness that is often overlooked, or underlooked if you go by what the naysayers critque.

  15. Thanks for sharing this Ken. My Dad gave me a soft cover “The 7 Habits of Effective People” in the early 90’s and just started reading it again for the 2nd time.

    I find it a little ironic that you mentioned confusing readers about beliefs and value systems, as that is where I’m presently at; “Beginning with the end in mind”.

    Steven definitely guides much deeper than surface things like “Law of Attraction”.

    Take care Ken, and thanks for the support.

  16. If you would like to implement some of Stephen Covey’s best ideas, you can give a try to this web aplication:

    You can use it to manage and prioritize your Goals (in each of your life’s categories), projects and tasks, in an intuitive interface. It has a Checklists section, for the repetitive activities you have to do, important but not urgent (Quadrant II, for example your routines/habits). Also, it features a Schedules section and a Calendar, for scheduling you time, activities and for the weekly review.

    Some ideas from GTD are also present, like Contexts and Next Actions.

    And it’s available on the mobile phone too, so you can access it wherever you are.

    Hope you like it.

  17. Great Article, and a great diagram of manageing your time.

    Yes, I have to put this into pratice for myself, I see the value in Stephen Covey’s diagram of time management. How one can easly get distracted, if not focused, on what’s at hand. As an online networker, im lost in the overload of information on the internet. I feel I must scale back and consintrate on what’s important on how I spend my time promoting my online business opportunities.

    This is another great article, that I enjoy reading here in leadsleap.

    O’yes, not to forget Ken, a big thank you for the information, you put into your newsletters…

    Ed :)

  18. I really like your article on the Time Management Matrix. I will definitely put this to use as I need to organize my online marketing tasks. You have written an outstanding article!

  19. This is the right blog for anyone who wants to
    understand this topic. You realize a whole lot
    its almost tough to argue with you (not that I actually will need to…HaHa).
    You definitely put a fresh spin on a subject that’s been discussed for
    ages. Excellent stuff, just great!

  20. Hi Kenneth,

    I haven’t read a post like this for a long time. Managing the time for we bloggers, is an important task. Since we need to divide time for content creation, link building etc.


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