Covey's Quadrants, The Time Management Matrix
Updated: Oct 19, 2018
What if I told you that you can increase your productivity and succeed in four steps?
Whether in our personal or professional life, we have tasks to accomplish, projects to be carried out and results to be achieved. This is life. We are however often lost in a mountain of things to do and the feeling of overload leads us either to total exhaustion, burn-out, or to paralysis with the immensity of tasks and obligations.
For clarity and time management, Stephen R. Covey, author, businessman and American speaker, devised a four-step system. This is the Covey's Quadrant or the Covey Quadrants, an essential tool for deciding what to do first, what can be done later or delegated, and what will not be done at all .
URGENT AND IMPORTANT
This is the quadrant of STRESS
a project that is due the next day,
go to the doctor with a sick child,
manage a flood at home
repair of the car that broke down on the highway.
pay a fine
negotiate with a dissatisfied customer
These are all activities to which we MUST put our time and attention, otherwise we will suffer much more serious consequences. It must be remembered that some of these things are there because we have badly anticipated, we have procrastinated or ignored for too long. If we spend all our time here, the result is stress and anxiety, burn-out, illness ...
IMPORTANT, NOT URGENT
This is the quadrant of QUALITY.
Here we find:
the vision of life
a life project
the development of our career or business
the development of the potential of others
the education of our children
the development of our potential
repair for presentations and important projects
listening attentively to others
relations with our loved ones
These are all activities that make us grow and that make us effective, productive and aligned with ourselves and our purpose on this planet. It is also the quadrant of our motivation, discipline, and personal conscience, because no one forces us to do the things that are here; we want to do it because we are aware of their long-term importance to a fulfilling life.
URGENT, NOT IMPORTANT
This is the quadrant of ILLUSION.
a lot of appointments, meetings, phone calls ...
managing the problems of others by neglecting ours ....
These are the things that seem urgent but not really important to us and our mission in life. These activities are often important things for someone else, and if we spend too much time here, we build the dreams of others but not ours. We help others achieve THEIR priorities by believing that we are in our "urgent and important" quadrant. Hence the quadrant of illusion.
NOT URGENT, NOT IMPORTANT
It is the quadrant of WASTE OF TIME
watch programmes or movies without interest
read gossip magazines
the time between friends to gossip
surf the net and social networks without a specific goal
These are not activities that recharge our batteries in a consistent way but that really make us waste our time. It is obvious that going to have a coffee or a drink with a friend who needs us can be very quickly in QI, but we have to consider the number of times our urgent help is rather a form of avoidance or procrastination to do what is really meaningful for us. In such cases, a NON assertive is well used. (Here you can read more about Why say NO and How to do it.)
From my life as an expat woman, I know that sometimes having coffee with a friend and just chatting about anything and everything can be a way to avoid depression, loneliness and the feeling of lack of a "mission" or a purpose. In general, these are still activities where we waste our time, energy and potential, so we should spend an extremely limited amount of time there. Ditto for alcoholic outings, endless meals, social obligations without more. And yes, TV and the Internet are a big black hole of our time. (Hello Netflix, I'm coming!).
The vast majority of my clients live most of the time in Quadrant III and I. I know very few people who live mostly between QIV and QIII ... taking it for QII. There, there is nothing to do as a coach, friend or person with a family link. It's hard, but we must respect each other's path, because we all live in a certain level of darkness on our own motivations. I often hear, especially parents, say: "But what a pity, what a waste of talent". I know too well, as a mother, that we can "lead a horse to water, but we can not force it to drink." Patience is the order of the day - the illusion.
The more we spend our lives in QIII, the more frustration we feel when we realise that others are happy with their lives and dreams, while at the same time we have wasted our resources. We are left with our batteries (wallet or worse, our home) empty. The stress of QI is dangerous, but the disappointment of ourselves in QIII is deadly.
My work with clients between QIII and QI is to make them aware of what is really in their quadrant II, and how they can find the balance between IQ, QII and QIII.
I invite you to do a little self-coaching of your priorities here:
Think about and write YOUR points in each of the quadrants.
Observe the activities in QI and QIII
Ask yourself if these activities approach your goals, dreams, or not. (You may wonder: Basically, why am I doing .......?)
If these activities do not improve the quality of your professional and personal life, ask yourself how you can reduce them or stop doing them altogether.
The more time you spend in the QII, the greater your sense of fulfillment, balance and happiness.
To practice myself, I made my own "cake" of quadrants. I think I have work to do to spend more time in the IMPORTANT, NOT URGENT quadrant! The REALLY important things in our lives are: our children, our loves, our parents, our friends, in short, family and relationships. Our REAL goal is to become aware of who we are and why we are here; and our plan is to work every day on the development of our consciousness and understanding of the world beyond the limitation of our belief system.