in Business, Creativity, Motivation, Philosophy, Psychology, Science

Quadrant Rant – Also, Ignore Fucking Jeff

“The key is not to prioritize what’s on your schedule, but to schedule your priorities.” – Stephen R. Covey

Whenever I meet someone who’s finding it hard to prioritize their days I reach for a pen and a piece of paper to draw them Covey’s Quadrants.

Usually they remember hearing about it or seeing it but they didn’t find it useful.

Whenever I probe further it becomes clear that they’ve missed some key points about the quadrants.

They’ve made the same mistake I did.

What happens so often is that we confuse the act of getting things done with productivity.

That’s just doing busy work, not actually moving forward.

When I fully understood how to implement the quadrants I found my work and life running far more smoothly.

Now, I was in no way perfect. I’m still not. But it’s only on rare occasions I let myself get distracted by the business of busyness.

Covey's Quadrants

Remember me?

While everyone understands why we should prioritize Q1 and ignore Q4, the question of whether we should focus on Q3 (urgent, not important) or Q2 (not urgent, important) still comes up time and time again.

The reason is that we’re far more comfortable dealing with things that can be dealt with here and now, and not so much with what’s way off in the future.

What we don’t always recognize is the fact that one day that future will be our present.

Now, getting things done that aren’t is nice. We feel like we’ve accomplished something. But do we really want to spend our time and energy on that? If it’s not important, why do it at all?

Imagine you’ve got 4 emails in your inbox and you apply Covey’s Quadrants as follows:

Q1 — You’ve got a client whose book just launched and their website is down.

Q2 — A prospective client wants to Skype with you later today.

Q3 — Jeff from accounting posted an “epic” Snapchat story totalling 25 minutes that’s all the rage in the office. In 2 hours it’ll be gone.

Q4 — Yet another Nigerian Prince is in need of your assistance.

Here you should clearly see the difference between what goes into Q2 and Q3.

What I hope you’re going to do is to:

1. Help fix the website.

2. Even if you end up having an hour to spare, you don’t watch fucking Jeff’s video, and you fucking call the prospective client.

3. You promptly delete the mail from the Nigerian Prince without opening it and set up a better spam filter.

Just so that there’s no confusion. We attend to the most pressing item first, and then we spend time on things that actually matter.

Also, we set up a better system so that spam doesn’t take up valuable space in our inbox in the future, and we ignore fucking Jeff’s video.

Now you could find ways of squeezing Jeff in there, should you decide it’s time well spent.

However, spending our time on the “ifs”, “ands” or “buts” that follow will only yield increasingly smaller rewards.

That’s why I’ll end by saying: You can implement this and other tools, or find a excuses not to.

Regardless of what you do, one day we’ll all be on our deathbeds wondering why we spent so much time figuring out how to please all the Jeff’s of the world instead of focusing our attention on more interesting and rewarding projects.

Fuck Jeff.


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