“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).”
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)