The important but no urgent things, the ones that we keep postponing because most of the times urgent things act on us. I would like to share with all of you a tool that I have found very useful and that has changed my life since I started using it, what Stephe Covey calls a fourth generation management tool.
Most of the times I found myself working on things that needed immediate action instead of spending time on the things that I thought could contribute more to my mission and my values.
Urgent matters are usually visible. They press on us; they insist on action. Often they are pleasant, easy, fun to do however most of them are unimportant.
When I say unimportant, I mean important in terms of results. As I said before something important should contribute to your life, your values, your mission in life.
We always react to urgent matters however in order to seize opportunity we need to be proactive and act rather than be acted upon to make things happen.
If we take a look at the matrix, Quadrant I activities they are both urgent and important. It deals with activities that we normally call "crises" or "problems".
As long as we focus on Quadrant I it keeps getting bigger and bigger until it dominates us. A huge problem comes and knocks you down and you are wiped out. You struggle back up only to face another one that knocks you down and slams you to the ground.
The results of managing life from Quadrant I are: Stress, Burnout, Crisis management, you end up putting out fires all the time. I lived this situation in my previous company and believe me when I say it is not a pleasant experience to be involved in such environment, I would say around 40% of the people in the company had gone through a burnout.
Other people spend most of their time in Quadrant III, "urgent, but no important", they spend their time reacting to things that are urgent, assuming they are also important, however the reality is that the urgency of those matters are often based on the priorities and expectations of others.
People who spend most of their time in Quadrants III and IV basically lead irresponsible lives.
Quadrant II is the heart of effective personal management. This quadrant deal with things like long-rage 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.
I love this sentence from Peter Drucker, effective people are not problem minded; they are opportunity-minded. They feed opportunities and starve problems. They think preventively.
We have to be proactive to work on Quadrant II activities because Quadrant I and III work on you, and for that reason we must learn to say no to other activities, sometimes apparently urgent things.
Ways of planning
Most of people plan day by day and prioritize their activities for that day in what is called daily planning however after reading the 7 habits I agree with Covey that daily planning often misses important things that can only be seen from a larger perspective. The very language "daily planning" focuses on the urgent, the now.
We need to manage our lives effectively, from a center of sound principles, from a knowledge of our personal mission on the important as well as the urgent and for that purpose we need a Quadrant II organizer.
Quadrant II organizing involves four keys activities:
Identifying your roles: You have many roles in the society, as a family member, as an employee, as a work council member etc. The roles might change during your life.
Selecting goals: Think of two or three important results you feel you should accomplish in each role during the next week. At least some of these goals should reflect Quadrant II activities. These short-term goals would be linked to your long-term goals or your personal mission in life.
Scheduling: Now you can look at the week ahead with your goals in mind and schedule time to achieve them.
Daily adapting: Take a few minutes each morning to review your schedule can put you in touch with the value-based decisions you made as we organized the week as well as unanticipated factors that may have come up.
As carefully as we organize the week, there will be times when, as a principle-centered person, you will need to subordinate your schedule to a higher value. You should use this managing tool bearing in mind that people are more important than things.
This is not a road map and like our values it should be our compass to take us wherever we decide to go.
It is based on principles, the ones we have chosen for ourselves so that will help us to gain confidence and to give us the strength needed to make decisions and choices, if we decide to wake up at 6 o'clock in the morning on a Saturday to go for a run, people might think we are crazy, however we are doing it because we have our goal in mind and regardless of what their opinion is we can look at our values and principles to stay focused.
In that way it is conscience-directed. It gives us the opportunity to organize our life to the best of our ability in harmony with our deepest values.
It also helps us to find the balance, by identifying roles and by setting goals and scheduling activities in each key role every week.
And last but not least, it will give us a greater context through weekly organizing.
I have been using it for the last four weeks and it is really helping me to organize my week better and based on the things that I consider important.
You can find templates and examples of weekly organization online, Covey weekly planner.
I challenge you to try it out, and of course once more I would strongly encourage you to read the 7 habits from Stephen Covey.
I would like to share with you my song of the week, which I found extremely awesome, Adele with the great Jimmy Fallon singing "Hello" with classroom instruments :). I hope you enjoy it!! Have a great week and enjoy the life!!!