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Video: Urgent things are killing you!

advance priorities time video Oct 11, 2016

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-

  • They don't text you
  • They don't chime on social media
  • They don't constantly remind you that they need you NOW!

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.

  • Social media
  • A ringing telephone
  • Text messages

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...  


The easiest things to schedule are the least important things to do

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…

  • It's easier to schedule a weekend to binge your Netflix favs than it is to do the hard work of camping out with the kids
  • Easier to tinker around than cleaning out the attic or shed (another one of mine, gulp!)

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.)  


Husbands & wives disagree on this one

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!

  • The baby poops and has to be changed
  • A kid spills something
  • One of your kids calls (yes, that's different than when the phone randomly rings, right?! But we often treat them the same, feeling like it's a moral imperative that we return that message!)

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.

  • Going to Chuck-e-cheese? Not a chance on the moon they'll have an urgent / important need.
  • Going to a wedding or running late to church? That's a guaranteed moment one of them will lose their shoes or stroll down the stairs trying to get out of the house in their pajamas.  

I think you've got this one down... 


The sweet spot for true change

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.

  • Prayer and meditation... not going to beg you to happen
  • Exercise, morning fitness routine... will let you sleep in right past the time window you've designated for it
  • Date night with your spouse... never begs... which is why guys go for years without taking their wife out
  • Taking the kids for a walk... 
  • You get the idea... 

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. 


*This clip comes from Session 05: How, of The Ladder.


You might also like-

The Ladder- the online workshop that helps you advance from where you are to where you're destined to be. Go to for more.


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