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:

  Urgent Not Urgent
Important Quadrant 1:Important / UrgentItems that need to be dealt with immediately

Firefighting

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

Distractions

Quadrant 4:Not important / Not urgentItems that need to be eliminated

Time Wasters

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.

My sources:

These are the few blogs I glanced through as I looked for some principles from S.Covey.

http://www.thoughtscreate.net/tag/steven-covey/

http://www.teal.org.uk/sv/timemgnt.htm

http://sidsavara.com/personal-development/nerdy-productivity-coveys-time-management-matrix-illustrated-with-xkcd-comics

http://tinobox.com/wordpress/productivity/todo-sorting-by-coveys-and-blanchardquadrant/

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