If you’ve ever tried to improve your time management skills you’ve probably come across Covey’s Quadrants.
What trips up most of us are the things in Q1. Once those things are done we have a tendency to pile more stuff in there. Usually things that might as well be in Q3. We put urgency ahead of importance.
Since most of the time we’re so focused on doing what’s urgent we lose sight on what’s important. Thinking about the future, a problem or being creative is not urgent but it is important. Making phone calls and sending e-mails might be urgent but not important. So the phone calls and e-mails get done and we don’t make time to do the big things that matter but that aren’t urgent.
This leads to us constantly putting out fires instead of thinking about how to avoid them in the first place. We put reaction ahead of action.
Of course, if your baby is on fire that’s not a time to start thinking about how to not have that happen in the future. That definitely goes into Q1.
It feels rewarding to do quick, easy tasks that are urgent but not important now rather than tackle the larger, uncertain and not so urgent tasks.
I recommend reading the book “How to Get Things Done without Trying Too Hard” by Richard Templar. It gives useful time management tips and life hacks. Also, the late Randy Pausch puts it in perspective in this lecture:
Q1 – Get it out of the way, fast!
Q2 – Focus as much time and effort on it as possible.
Q3 – Leave it until it becomes important or delegate.
Q4 – Just… Just don’t.