Habit 3, Put First Things First, Principles Of Personal Management Quadrant II (Part II)

Author’s Time Management Matrix:

Quadrant I                             | Quadrant II
Urgent and Important          | Not Urgent and Important

Quadrant III                          | Quadrant IV
Urgent and Not Important  | Not Urgent and Not Important

Author’s quotes:
“There are other people who spend a great deal of time in ‘urgent, but not important’, Quadrant III, thinking they’re in Quadrant I. The spend most of their time reacting to things that are urgent, assuming they are also important. But the reality is that the urgency of these matters is often based on the priorities and expectations of others.

People who spend time almost exclusively in Quadrants III (e.g., popular activities, interruptions, and IV (e.g., trivia, busy work, time wasters) basically lead irresponsible lives.

Effective people stay out of Quadrants III and IV because, urgent or not, they aren’t important. They also shrink Quadrant I down to size by spending more time in Quadrant II.

Quadrant II is the heart of effective personal management. It deals with things that are not urgent, but are important. It deals with things like building relationships, writing a personal mission statement, long-range planning, exercising, preventive maintenance, preparation—all those things we know we need to do, but somehow seldom get around to doing, because they aren’t urgent.

To paraphrase Peter Drucker, effective people are not problem-minded; they’re opportunity-minded. They feed opportunities and starve problems. They think preventively.

Whether you are a student at the university, a worker in an assembly line, a homemaker, fashion designer, or president of a company, I believe that if you were to ask what lies in Quadrant II and cultivate the proactivity to go after it, you would find the same results. Your effectiveness would increase dramatically. Your crises and problems would shrink to manageable proportions because you would be thinking ahead, working on the roots, doing the preventive things that keep situation from developing in crises in the first place. In time management jargon, this is called the Pareto Principle—80 percent of the results flow out of 20 percent of the activities.”

Personal comments:

What I find most disturbing is the lack of action by local government agencies boards, and I would classify their behavior as residing in Quadrant’s III and IV. Busywork/talk, and the grandstanding that takes place. The local Commission On Aging has one person in particular who loves to “promote themselves” through trivia, unrelated to subjects, the Commission is supposed to be discussing.

I’ve only had one experience where the chairperson kept the group on task/focus, although some in the group are too long-winded. It does explain, to some degree, why some good people decide to sit on the sidelines, probably to focus on Quadrant II.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Next: Habit 3
Put First Things First,
Principles Of Personal Management
What It Takes To Say “NO”

Habit 3, Put First Things First, Principles Of Personal Management Quadrant II (Part I)

Author’s quotes:

“Basically, we spend time in one of four ways. The two factors that define an activity are URGENT and IMPORTANT. URGENT means it requires immediate attention. It’s ‘Now!’ Urgent things act on us. A ringing phone is urgent. Most people can’t stand the thought of just allowing the phone to ring.

Urgent matters are usually visible. They press on us; they insist on action. They’re often popular with others. They’re usually right in front of us. And often they are pleasant, easy, fun to do. But so often they are unimportant!

Importance, on the other hand, has to do with results. If something is important, it contributes to your mission, your values, and your high priority goals.

We react to urgent matters. Important matters that are not urgent require more initiative, more proactivity. We must act to seize opportunity, to make things happen. If we don’t practice Habit 2, if we don’t have a clear idea of what is important, of the results we desire in our lives, we are easily diverted into responding to the urgent.

The four quadrants in the time management matrix are: Quadrant I is both urgent and important. It deals with significant results that require immediate attention. We usually call these activities in Quadrant I ‘crises’ or ‘problems.’ We all have some Quadrant I activities in our lives. But Quadrant I consumes many people. They are crisis managers, problem-minded people, and deadline-driven producers.

As long as you focus on Quadrant I, it keeps getting bigger and bigger until it dominates you. It’s like the pounding surf. A huge problem comes and knocks you down and you’re wiped out. You struggle back up only to face another one that knocks you down and slams you to the ground.

Some people are literally beaten up by problems all day every day. The only relief they have is in escaping to the not important, not urgent activities of Quadrant IV. So when you look at their total matrix, 90 percent of their time is in Quadrant I and most of the remaining 10 percent is in Quadrant IV, with only negligible attention paid to Quadrants II and III. That’s how people who manage their lives by crisis live (Stress, Burnout, Crisis management, Always putting out fires).”

Personal comments:

People interaction can be urgent and important. The following true story demonstrates the difference between a seller and a buyer on the subject.

A painter was picking up paint for a job he had ordered. Unfortunately he was unable to get waited on because store employees were “too busy” looking at a picture of a dead deer someone had shot. Disrespect has become the norm today, on the road, in stores, on sidewalks, and in our homes. Individuals living the 7 Habits of Effective People do not demonstrate this behavior.

Poor managers drive their people to Quadrant IV with their lack of respect for them (read my blog on the subject, 4-17, 2013). Two true stories, out of many, illustrate the point. An employee said HI to her associate, and the associate ignored the greeting and walked on. The response from the employee was, ”I guess she didn’t want to say HI”….. Another employee received an email from her callous boss telling her that her last day at work was the following Tuesday. This story pains me, and I hope it pains you, too.


Habit 3 Put First Things First,
Principles Of Personal Management
Quadrant II (Part II)

Habit 3, Put First Things First, Principles Of Personal Management, Four Generations Of Time Management

Personal comments:

Most of us have had training on some form of time management, and in this section of the book, Covey discusses the first three; notes and checklists, calendars and appointments, and prioritization/clarifying values. Then he introduces his time management principle of Quadrant II (activities that aren’t urgent). This will be the focus of today’s post.

Author’s quotes:

“In Habit 3 we are dealing with many of the questions addressed in the field of life and time management. As a longtime student of this fascinating field, I am personally persuaded that the essence of the best thinking in the are of time management can be captured in a single phrase: ORANIZE AND EXECUTE AROUND PRIORITTIES.

While the third generation has made a significant contribution, people have begun to realize that ‘efficient’ scheduling an control of time are often counterproductive. The efficiency focus creates expectations that clash with the opportunity to develop rich relationships, to meet human needs, and to enjoy spontaneous moments on a daily basis.

As a result, many people have become turned off by time management programs and planners that make them feel too scheduled too restricted, and they ‘throw the baby out with the bath water,’ reverting to first or second generation techniques to preserve relationships, spontaneity, and quality of life.

Butt there is an emerging fourth generation that is different in kind. It recognizes that ‘time management’ is really a misnomer—the challenge is not to manage time, but to manage ourselves. Satisfaction is a function of expectation as well as realization. And expectation (and satisfaction) lie in our Circle of Influence.

Rather than focusing on THINGS and TIME, fourth generation expectations focus on preserving and enhancing RELATIONSHIPS and on accomplishing RESULTS—in short, on maintaining the P (production)/PC (production capability) Balance (explained in February 26, 2014 post).

Personal comments:

On the next post Covey’s discussion will focus on the four quadrants; Quadrant I–Urgent, and Important; Quadrant II—Not Urgent, and Important (this being the correct place to be); Quadrant III—Not Important, and Urgent; Quadrant IV—Not Urgent, and Not Important. A preview:

Quadrant I (Urgent, and Important): Activities associated with Quadrant I include Crises, Pressing problems, Deadline-driven projects

Quadrant II (Not Urgent, and Important): Activities associated with Quadrant II include Prevention, PC (Production Capability) activities, Relationship building, Recognizing new opportunities, Planning, recreation

Quadrant III (Urgent, and Not Important): Activities associated with Quadrant III include Interruptions, some calls, Some mail, some reports, Some meetings, Proximate, pressing matters, Popular activities

Quadrant IV (Not Urgent, and Not Important): Activities associated with Quadrant IV include Trivia, busy work, Some mail, Some phone calls, Time wasters, Pleasant activities

Next: Habit 3
Put First Things First,
Principles Of Personal Management
Quadrant II

Personal commentary on Independent Will

I did not have space to complete my comments on the topic of Independent Will from my October 29 post, and will add them on this special edition. I will be traveling November 5 so my next post will be on November 12.

In the dialogue below, each paragraph begins with a quote from Covey, followed by my related comments:

“The ability to act rather than to be acted upon.”
–Discerning when to act is not enhanced by putting ourselves first. It is enhanced by using our endowments (self-awareness, imagination, independent will, and conscience).

“Empowerment comes from learning how to use this great endowment (Independent Will) in the decisions we make every day.”
–If independent will is not exercised it is easy for others to consider us to be compliant, uninvolved, uninterested, a ‘yes’ person, and worse. If we possess noble principles and values it is important that we use them to become engaged.

“Integrity is, fundamentally, the value we place on ourselves.”
–When we place this value on ourselves others recognize it. When we do not possess integrity that is also recognized.

“Effective management is putting first things first. While leadership decides what “first things” are, it is management that puts them first, day-by-day, moment-by-moment. Management is discipline, carrying it out.”
–Many are confused by the difference between management and leadership, but it must be clearly understood. Covey has stated it well. Surrounding ourselves with quality people, and listening to them makes the difference clearer. Remember, leaders are never “islands”, and they don’t flock. You find them one at a time.

“Discipline (used the wrong word in my October 29 post) derives from disciple—disciple to a philosophy, disciple to a set of principles, disciple to a set of values, disciple to an overriding purpose, to a super ordinate goal or a person who represents that goal.”
–A critical aspect of effectiveness. Disciple-ness cannot be overestimated.

“That subordination requires a purpose, a mission, a Habit 2 clear sense of direction and value, a burning ‘yes!’ inside that makes it possible to say ‘no’ to other things. It also requires independent will, the power to do something when you don’t want to do it, to be a function of your values rather than a function of the impulse or desire of any given moment. It’s the power to act with integrity to your proactive first creation.”
–This burning ‘yes’/passion’ is real. I feel it every time I talk about the human condition. For to me it is the basis for a society that elevates, and supports, instead of tearing down.

Habit 3 Put First Things First,
Principles Of Personal Management
Four Generations Of Time Management