What activities do you spend most of your time on?
According to the late Dr. Stephen Covey in his book, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, all our activities lie in four quadrants:
- Important and urgent (Quadrant 1),
- Important, but not urgent (Quadrant 2),
- Not important, but urgent (Quadrant 3), and
- Not important and not urgent (Quadrant 4).
Quadrant 1: Important and urgent. Most activities in this quadrant are matters of life and death. Maybe a fire broke out or you need to bring someone to the hospital.
Let’s proceed first to Quadrants 3 and 4.
Quadrant 3: Not important, but urgent. This is where most of the work we do lie. For example, most of the reports we need to submit to our bosses are urgent. Our work deadlines are urgent. But ten years down the road, do you think that the deadlines you are meeting today are important enough to make a huge impact in your life? How about in the grand scheme of things?
Quadrant 4: Not important and not urgent. This is usually where our activities for leisure lie, such as watching TV, playing video games (guilty), surfing the net, or scrolling down our social media feeds. Many of these activities are complete wastes of time.
Quadrant 2: Important, but not urgent. This is where our most important activities lie, such as pursuing your dream, helping others, making a difference, writing a book, building relationships, nourishing yourself physically, mentally, spiritually, and emotionally, and exercising. Because they’re not urgent (and not leisurely), they’re also the activities that are easiest for us to put off. Also, the benefits from these activities take a lot of time to reap. It’s easier to just procrastinate. But, these are the activities that will make a huge and profound impact in our lives—especially long term.
Here’s an activity you can do: List down all your activities and plot them in the four quadrants. Then, for the activities for each quadrant:
Quadrant 1 activities are unavoidable. Do less of Quadrant 4 activities. Manage the time you spend on your Quadrant 3 activities. (In other words, use your time at work wisely.) Finally, spend the time you save from your activities in Quadrants 3 and 4 on Quadrant 2 activities.