Sometimes, it's confusing to know what things we SHOULD do and what things we shouldn't even mess with when we get into time management, scheduling, and planning. Here's why in a nutshell: The most important things don't beg for your attention.
The important things-
You have to intentionally set aside time- and stick to the commitment- if you're going to see progress. The most important things in life is that, well... they don't usually beg for your attention.
Stephen Covey writes about a concept he calls the four quadrants in his book The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People. He argues that all opportunities are not equal. Some things are more important than others. Really, we all know he's right.
To categorize important things from unimportant things, he uses four quadrants. Every activity you do fits in one of the four. No exceptions, no category-straddling.
Let me walk you through the four quadrants, making some observations as we go...
Quadrant 1- Urgent but Not Important. These items beg you for attention, but they aren’t important.
These are the things that consistently nag us, pulling us from the things that really matter most. Think about it: how many times have you gotten frustrated with one of your kids (more important) because they were trying to ask you a question while you were scrolling Facebook (not important!). Yeah, not picking on you there ^^^^- that's one of my biggees!
Well, there's more...
Quadrant 2- Not Urgent and Not Important. This is simply things that catch your attention and you think, “Hmmm… I’d like to do that… maybe sometime.”
Oddly enough, we actually prioritize things like this (watching a movie, for instance) over pursuing the actions of Quadrant 4.
Why? Because they’re most often easier to do…
The final season of Lost or the latest episode of This Is Us isn't urgent or important (really, it's not)... but, somehow, it gets prioritized.
Now, all of the important things are on the right side of the chart, OK? I've just given you two items on the left side of the chart- right where the unimportant lives.
(By the way, I think I actually shifted some of Covey's quadrants around to suit my purposes at the Advance workshop, alright? But the concept comes from him. We put all the important stuff to the right side of the page on all of the charts and graphs we use.)
The video above expounds upon this point- some things have to be done right now. And they're pretty important. Just how important you think they are depends on if your a guy or a gal.
Quadrant 3- Urgent and Important. These things must be handled right away- and they let you know it!
I'll help you frame this one- if you're a parent with small kids, this is the stuff that
usually always happens when you're walking out the door! And, the more important the event is you're going to, well, the more likely it is to happen.
I think you've got this one down...
Quadrant 4- Not Urgent and Important. This is where, arguably, the most important issues reside. However, they are easy to neglect- most people ignore them- because they don’t clamor for attention.
The action steps to bring your dreams into reality most often all reside here. You must be intentional about this area or it will go undone.
The danger is that the urgent things consistently beg for attention, whereas the important things usually don’t.
And, again, the actions to bring your dreams to reality sit in Quadrant 4, most often making little or no noise at all.
The solution? Part of it is to schedule your priorities rather than working from a "to do" list.
The rest of the solution? We'll hit it in an upcoming post when we talk about the "No-for-now-not-for-later" concept.
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