The 4 Quadrants of Time Management
Dr. Stephen Covey explains in his writing that all of our time is spent in one of four quadrants, things that are:
I. Important and urgent
II. Important but not urgent
III. Not important but urgent
IV. Not important and not urgent
Quadrant I items are easy
Think about it for a second. If you realize that something is important and urgent, you’re probably going to do it. Right?
Most of us who are leaders have the ability to recognize and do the things that are important and urgent. These are the things that we simply must do to stay in business.
Quadrant IV items are almost as easy
We understand that those items that are not important and urgent are a waste of our time. If you are reading this, I’m going to assume that you already understand this. An example of a quadrant IV item is watching TV, especially when done in excess. The same goes for checking your personal Facebook and Twitter while you are supposed to be working as these both waste your time. These activities often catch us by surprise in that we don’t realize how quickly time can be wasted doing these activities.
Quadrant III has the “not important but urgent” items
Think about some not important but urgent items. If you constantly leave your e-mail open during the day, you are probably bombarded with these not important but urgent emails on a daily basis. If something was truly important and urgent, someone would call to tell you, right?
For me I personally hate wasting time on email and have an auto-reply set up letting people know that I only check my email once a day or once every day thanks to tips from The 4 Hour Workweek by Tim Ferriss. If something is truly important, people will call me or come see me. The majority of emails are not important, but appear to be urgent. My time is too valuable to spend all day replying to emails.
Try this in your office…
Ask yourself what you or some of your team members spend time on that is really not taking you to your goals.
Activities like this will help you figure out what’s truly important in your business.
Quadrant II is the most important use of your time.
The things that fall under this category directly impact the quality of life that you have. Such things that fall under this category are exercise, strategic planning, goal setting, reading nonfiction leadership/business books, taking a class, relationship building, having a social life, etc.
We can all agree that these are important things in our life, but are they urgent? These are some of the things that help us rejuvenate and refresh our minds and help us improve. The problem is that we often ignore these things because they aren’t urgent, and we tend to avoid them the most.
If you don’t exercise and eat right (you’re too busy) you will have the opportunity to exercise and eat right when your health fails you and you suddenly can’t work on your precious business anymore. These not-so-urgent activities, when left undone, have the potential to become a huge cost to you. This is why it’s important to budget time to do only quadrant I and II avtivities, while avoiding quadrant IV activities as much as possible.
Oh yeah, you need to start delegating the things in quadrant III.