We live in a society that is getting busier and more cluttered. We have thousands of marketing messages thrown at us throughout the day, the demands on our time are greater than they have ever been, and we can’t seem to catch up.
Every one of us has felt that there are not enough hours in the days or days in the week. This feeling can lead to frustration, stress, and anxiety. The worst part is that there does not seem to be an end in sight.
What do we do? What is the solution?
Author, speaker, and entrepreneur, Jim Rohn says that time, not money, is the most vital commodity. He said we can always make more money, but we cannot make more time.
In fact, he says that the richest people in America have something in common with the poorest people. They all have the same 24 hours in the day and the same 7 days in the week.
So, how is it that some people can rise to the top of their careers, have great family lives, tremendous health, and live the life of their dreams while others are barely scraping by?
It’s true we all have the same amount of time, however, the way we use that time differs greatly from person to person, generation to generation.
Author Stephen R. Covey wrote a best-selling book entitled, “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People”. In that book he outlines his four time quadrants, and his insights are eye-opening to say the least.
Quadrant #1: The Procrastinator
This quadrant focuses on doing tasks that are both urgent and important. These could be fixing a flat tire, bringing a loved one to the emergency room when they are sick or hurt, doing an assignment at the last minute, and repairing a broken computer.
They are tasks that need to be done so everyone stays healthy and whole, and they need to be done right away.
You probably know some people that always seem to be in the first quadrant. They are constantly running around dealing with the urgent items, and they have to get taken care of or there are real consequences.
The challenge in this category is the person is always in a rush and the stress levels can be high. None of us are immune to being in quadrant #1 from time to time. Life happens and we have to deal with it.
The key to avoiding this quadrant most of the time is proper planning. As the old cliché says, “Proper planning and preparation leads to peak performance.”
Quadrant #2: The Prioritizer
This is the quadrant we should all strive to be in most of the time. In this category, you are working on tasks that are important but not urgent.
People with strong planning skills are in quadrant #2 most of the time. They are working on tasks that are important, such as creating marketing plans, building relationships with prospects, doing homework assignments, etc.
They key is that none of these items need to be done immediately. They are not urgent. This is where a college student has a paper due in 4 weeks, and they do a little bit of work on it each day, so they are not rushing and stressed at the end.
This is the business person that creates a marketing months in advance so they have plenty of time to get the materials together, train their staff, etc.
Most people do not work well under pressure. Some people claim that they work best under pressure, but if they really analyze their work and performance, it is usually not the case.
Quadrant #3: The Yes-Person
Tasks in this quadrant fall in the category of being urgent but not important. These are things like answering an unimportant phone call, text, or email message. It could also be someone interrupting you with an unimportant request or problem while you are working on an important project.
Peer pressure falls into this category also.
The person who spends most of their time in this quadrant usually has a hard time saying no to people, and they end up overbooking themselves. This leads to stress, anxiety, and very little important work or activities getting done.
We have all fallen victim to being in this quadrant at one point or another.
Author and speaker Darren Hardy has a great strategy for staying out of this quadrant. He says that most of the time, people commit themselves to things they don’t really want to do because they don’t want to disappoint another person.
He says when you are presented with an opportunity to do something or go somewhere and your answer is an excited, “Hell yeah!” then it is OK to go.
But if your true feeling is that you don’t really want to go, use this polite line, “Thank you for thinking of me. I appreciate it. As of right now, I can’t go but if that changes, I will let you know.”
This way you are cordial and polite, and you are staying out of quadrant #3!
Quadrant #4: The Slacker
This is the worst quadrant to be in for long periods of time. These are the tasks that are both not urgent and not important. Watching too much TV, endless phone calls, playing video games, and wasting time in general are what quadrant #4 people do a lot.
It is OK to be in quadrant #4 for short periods of time, so you can relax and recharge your batteries, but spending too much time here can ruin your career, family, and health because you are wasting time in the wrong areas.
We all know people that never get ahead in life because they are wasting their most precious commodity…time.
Don’t let this be you! Quadrant #4 can be avoided when you have clear goals, a solid action plan, and high levels of ambition and initiative.
As author and speaker Brian Tracy says, “Clarity is power!” And clarity will help to keep you out of quadrant #4 and get you back in quadrant #2 where we all belong!
None of us are guaranteed another day, and none of us should take any time we have with family, friends, and loved ones for granted. Make the most of your time and use your time the right way, and your quality of life will skyrocket!