Prioritize with Pleasure

June 15th, 2019  |  Laurie Hawkins

Are you feeling overwhelmed by your large to-do list that only seems to expand?

Have you ever reached the end of the day and felt like you were so busy you couldn’t
breathe and yet, you got nothing “real” accomplished?

Does this describe your life in any way?

You wake up in the morning and start checking your email right away. Then you grab your coffee and continue to check email. You had every intention of meditating, reading or exercising and yet, there seems to be no time left…again.

You spend the whole day reacting to the “bing” of new emails. You don’t seem to have time to take lunch and if you do, it’s on the run and at your desk. You go home with no extra energy reserves and feel too exhausted to interact with your family in a dynamic and meaningful way.

Even though you are tired, you can’t seem to sleep, so you mindlessly surf the TV or internet. You feel completely swamped in work and yet, you don’t feel like you get anything accomplished.

Our lives are made up of activities that are more or less important and more or less urgent. That means that everything we do falls into one of four quadrants with those as your axis points. Learning to choose where you spend your energy, in which of these quadrants, is the key to building a life filled with fulfillment and flow.

This is such a difficult choice in today’s continuous barrage of information and communication coming at us. I think back to even ten years ago in my business and life and how much more manageable everything seemed to be. This is a choice that needs to be made every minute of every day.

I wonder when Stephen Covey created the Urgent/Important Matrix if he had any idea how impactful and critical the concept would become. Let’s take a look at leveraging this tool to create success and peace.

Stop with the TO-DO list and shift to a priority list

Former US President Eisenhower used the so-called “Eisenhower Principle” to organize his tasks. He is quoted as saying, “What is important is seldom urgent and what is urgent is seldom important.” Dr Stephen Covey made these concepts mainstream, calling it “The Urgent/Important Matrix” in his famous book ‘The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People’. By embracing the work created by Stephen Covey known as the Urgent-Important Matrix, you can get more done, build your energy, accomplish goals and lean into meaningful productivity.

Quadrant 1: Necessity
These tasks are urgent and important. These are the things that come at you that you need to take care of now. That’s why it’s called the quadrant of necessity. An angry client on the phone, a friend has a heart attack, the printer breaks down at the office. People who live primarily in Q1 are urgency addicts. The gateway to the mind is cluttered with critical priorities that demand attention now.

Quadrant 3: Distraction
These pursuits are urgent but not important. Many people spend a lot of time in Q3 thinking they are in Q1. Really, they are just reacting to other people’s crisis, phone calls, emails, text
messages, routine meetings, people dropping by – all these can deceive them into thinking they are getting things done, but really, they are just spinning their wheels. Meanwhile, truly
important priorities fall off the agenda. Q3 people are also urgency addicts. This quadrant has always been the enemy of productivity and even more so now, thanks to the technology tsunami that swamps us daily.

Quadrant 4: Waste
These activities are not urgent or important. We call this the quadrant of waste because
literally nothing productive gets done. People who live in Q4 watch too much TV, spend hours and hours playing video games, surf the net into the early hours and spend hours scrolling through social media. The human brain that hovers constantly over distractions on electronic screens is a Q4 brain. It is so important to relax and have fun, as long as it is not being motivated by a desire to evade priorities. Burn out and mindlessness are enemies of

Quadrant 2: Extraordinary Results
Tasks here are important but not urgent. This is the quadrant of extraordinary results because here you take charge of your own life and create your future. Q2 people do the thoughtful, creative, proactive work that changes the world. They plan, they prepare, they prevent crisis. They learn, they create, they build relationships, they continually renew their energy levels so they don’t burn out. They do the things everyone else knows are most important but never seem to get to. How does it feel to live in Q2? Some of the words would be fulfilled, peaceful, energized, in control. People here habitually put first things first in their lives.

Reflection: Time is your most precious resource. Reflect on the four quadrants and determine how you will choose to spend your time differently so that you can create all that you truly desire.