I mentioned “Quadrant 2” at the end of my last post, so here’s the explanation… Basically, it’s a way that I can start to get a little bit of a handle on my time management issues. And believe me, “issues” is an understatement.
Have you ever read 7 Habits of Highly Effective People? Now, for those of you who know where I’m going with this, don’t jump all over me and think that I’ve slipped off my rocker or something. I haven’t actually read the book, but it seems that any book, class, or seminar with a “leadership” focus is going to reference it at least once, if not 100 times. Apart from the fact that the author has some crazy skewed theology (I won’t get into that), I never read it because I tend to get pretty frustrated with the average self-help book and what it promotes. Granted, some are worth their salt, but those are rare. Maybe 7 Habits is one of those rare ones, but I doubt it.
(It just occurred to me that some of you might have read 7 Habits and think it’s your all-time favorite book because it radically changed your life. If that is the case, ignore the previous paragraph.)
ANYWAY. My point is this: that book might be a bunch of baloney (balogna?), it might not. Either way, there is one concept from that book that I am familiar with bc of various cheesy seminars, and it’s actually something that stuck with me… because as far as my scatterbrained self goes, it was right-on.
I have no idea what it’s really called, but I call it the Time Magament Quadrant Thingy. And let me preface the rest of this with a huge disclaimer: I AM THE WORST TIME MANAGER EVER. period. You can’t beat me in this.
The TMQT goes something like this – every activity, task, etc falls somewhere on the scale of Unimportant to Important, and from Non-Urgent to Urgent. It might be kind of important, but not urgent at all, or maybe really urgent and really important at the same time. If you map it out in a diagram, it looks something like this:
Basically, everything you do falls into one of the quadrants. Because most of us royally suck at managing our time well, we end up fluctuating between putting out fires in Quadrant 1 (things that have to be done NOW) but having a hard time because we keep getting interrupted by things in Quadrant 3 (things that don’t really matter but keep getting in your way), so we try to cope by procrastinating with the things in Quadrant 4 (huge time-wasters).
As a result, we never get to the elusive Quadrant 2…things that we should definitely do but we’ll have to do them later. Which means NEVER. I mean, really, how often do YOU have time to sit down and work on something like “values clarification” or “empowerment?” Probably never. Okay, maybe that’s a bad example — a little too “self help-y” for me… How about something a little more tangible in that category: How often do you have time to sit down and figure out a system that would make your house/home/tasks run more efficiently and less stressfully? Probably never. It falls into the category of “ideal and helpful and important, but it’s never gonna happen.”
So basically, the symptom of being a terrible time manager is that you live constantly in Quadrant 1. The reason why is because we spend too much time focusing on the things in Quadrant 3 that arent important but make us THINK they are, and because we spend any extra time in Quadrant 4 doing things like blogging and checking facebook. (: I’m not guilty at all.
Apparently, the way to fix the problem and get to the ideal (Quadrant 2) is to start understanding where everything falls on the scale. Suddenly, it’s easy to see where it should fit in my list of priorities. The important and urgent stuff gets taken care of quicker. The unimportant stuff gets recognized for what it is. Things fall into place a little easier and your task list makes a little more sense.
Of course, this is all based on a my 2nd hand knowledge of an idea from a book that I never read, but heard from a person who probably never read the book either. So take it for what it’s worth (which may be nothing). And my total premise of what the book is actually talking about in this chapter could be totally wrong. But this is how I heard it, and it makes sense to me. Maybe it will help you out too.
And, really, if you sat here and read all of this from start to finish, you just might have some time-management issues of your own!