Life can be such a juggling act, where, we try to keep to many balls moving around at the same time. This is no good unless you are a juggler. Life is so hectic these days. Living in such a fast paced world, with so many pressures coming at us from so many directions, it can be hard to keep your attention on your key priorities in life. Living like this more often than not results in stress, and its negative effects.
Stephen Covey in “The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People” classifies the things we need to do by whether they are important or urgent. He recommends that we prioritise tasks that are ‘important but not urgent’. Urgent means it’s demanding our attention (NOW!) Important means it’s worth doing. He suggests four quadrants in which to divide your activities::
Quadrant 1: Urgent and important
This is where those pressing matters get looked after, such as meeting deadlines, handling crises, reacting to unexpected situations. Here is where we spend too much of our time, trying to avoid or dealing with emergencies, resolving problems or reacting to the demands of other people.
Quadrant 2: Not urgent, but important
This is where you should be spending as much time as possible. These activities are those that you would benefit from by prioritising. Spending time doing those things that are important but not urgent, means that you are focusing on your goals, because they are what is important to you. By making those important things your priority, you are dealing with them before they then become urgent. To determine what in your life, is important but not urgent, ask yourself the following question:
‘What activities can I be spending time on, that will create a major and long-lasting positive effect’.
‘What one thing could I do in my personal and professional life that, if I did on a regular basis, would make a tremendous positive difference in my life?
Quadrant 3: Urgent, but not important
You must discipline yourself to stop doing the things that are urgent but not important. Being interrupted by meetings and telephone calls, reading and replying to emails.
Quadrant 4: Not urgent and not important
These are those time wasting activities which achieve nothing and provide no worth while results for you in your life.
So, concentrate as much of your time on what is IMPORTANT.
Great time management means being effective as well as efficient. Managing time effectively, and achieving the things that you want to achieve, means spending your time on things that are important and not just urgent. To do this, and to minimize the stress of having too many tight deadlines, you need to understand this distinction.
Stay out of Quadrants 3 and 4 because, urgent or not, they aren’t important, also reduce activities in Quadrant I spending more time in Quadrant 2.