I have been doing a bit of soul searching in a few areas of my life lately and a friend mentioned to me the Steven Covey idea of four quadrants to help sort out our priorities. After a bit of a Google search, and combining different people’s take on this idea I came up with this prompt chart:
|Important||Quadrant 1:Important / UrgentItems that need to be dealt with immediately
|Quadrant 2:Important / not urgentItems that need to be planned for
Quality time / Productivity
|Not Important||Quadrant 3:Not important / UrgentItems that need to be minimised
|Quadrant 4:Not important / Not urgentItems that need to be eliminated
Steven Covey would tell us we should work mostly in Quadrant 2 – the important things, and yet they aren’t yelling at us in a sense of emergency. That is because we have habits of planning and productivity. I should plan to work on these tasks in my most productive time of the day (4-6.00am) – my prime time.
I must admit a lot of my computer or office time, is in Quadrant 1 – important things become urgent. Pressure! The reason why I am in this state is because I live too much in Quadrant 4 – wasting time when I am in the office. Ouch – but a good thing to see.
I have particularly appreciated those last words on each list: firefighting, productivity, distractions, time wasters. I can quickly sum up my activity I get caught up in, or write on my to-do list. By recognising which category my activities fall into I can start changing how I spend my time. I can stop doing the time wasters, I can move on from the distractions, I can diligently work on what is important, reducing the urgency in my life.
- Blogging: Important but not urgent (q2)
- Reading Emails/blogs: Distraction (I couldn’t decide if it was important or not, urgent or not so this other word helped me place it in its right place) (q3)
- Browsing: this is a follow on from reading blogs – I dig into links going from place to place. Distraction. If there truly is something that my family needs then I need to earmark it as such and put it into a planned task to follow through. Mindlessly browsing, just filling my head with information, is not important and yet habit, my desires or marketing will tell me it is urgent when really it is not. (q3)
- Facebook: Not important and certainly not urgent – time waster! (q4)
- Finance work: It is important and often it becomes urgent – creating stress – which could be removed if I designated finance to the Q.2 and worked on it in my productive time of the day.
- Emails: In order to control my inbox I am dealing with emails when I first read them. This makes it important and urgent. A do it now task. As long as I plan when I open them, which is kind of a q2 habbit, then I am keeping on top of them. So emails fall somewhere between q1 and q2.
- Writing projects – should be important / not urgent, but I delay so often they are in the important/urgent
- Projects – I have lots of different happenings that need my input – ministry commitments, family events, household administration – more often than not they get ignored till the deadline is looming. Functioning on adrenaline isn’t really a healthy way to live so I need to be more consistent with working on these projects in my productive time, not squeezing in time late in the afternoon (when there is always interruptions.) (q2)
It is quickly becoming apparent that I do indeed have many of my priorities right – as in I do plan to work on the important things – but I tend to leave them till they are urgent hence causing stress. I tend to use my prime time, my productive time, for time wasters. I do this because I have this sense of “I’m up early, earlier than everyone else, I deserve some me time” but reality is I have me time, time of rest, after everyone goes to bed in the evening, so I need to reshuffle my thinking on this one and use this prime time for productivity.
These are the few blogs I glanced through as I looked for some principles from S.Covey.
Hi Belinda and thanks for posting. I really like this kind of approach as it is personalised. I find it funny how we can each view the same tasks as being in a different quadrant- which is fine… it’s that individual approach.
I’ve found that FB, for me, is more in Q2 and that browsing blogs is in fact in Q3 or more even Q4. I think that is because when I participate on FB it is in a relational way- catching up with friends (IRL or cyber) and I am touching base with them. However, when I blog surf it is usually for information and it’s way too easy for me to get distracted for long periods of time and not have a relational connection. But it’s taken me awhile to see that. 😉
Thanks for sharing! i’m always informed or encouraged when you do 🙂
Thanks Susan – Yes, I have another half post written about the individualness of these quadrants. It really does depend on your purpose – but I may write about that some more later on. There is a time and place for everything isn’t there – it is finding the right time, for the right activity that is the key.
Hi Belinda! Thanks for reading my blog post on Covey Quadrants… and linking! If you feel brave find my “Dave’s Market Quadrant” post, which will show up on Google search I’m sure.
I put Facebook in Q4 too, even though everyone says it’s the hot place to be for marketing.
For projects, I break those down on spreadsheets to see where the money is. No money, no project. =(. For a viable project, into a Covey quad it goes!