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Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Quadrant II

If you're wondering where I've been... I've been here... looking at the bar on the side of my blog that states I posted 23 entries in November. That's just not right.

It now seems pretty obvious why I haven't had "enough time" in the day to live my life.

Marriage Business Family Health Rest Play Church Friends Finances Home Maintenance
have all been getting scraps of me.
And the poor dog has been getting the shaft. Poor, poor doggie.

blogs email news web-surfing to-do lists
have been getting the best of me.

Yeah- something's outtawhack.

Stephen Covey Sr. created a chart to show the relationship between the urgency and the importance of a task. Everything we do falls into one of those four categories. (

"Urgent" means it demands your attention right this minute.

QI: Important and urgent
Recommended reaction: Do it now.

QII: Important, not urgent
Recommended reaction: Decide when to do it.

QIII: Urgent, not important
Recommended reaction: Delegate it.

QIV: Not urgent, not important
Recommended reaction: Dump it.

"Dr. Covey’s advice is to spend as much time as possible working on things which are important, but not urgent (Quadrant II). This will take the pressure off in the future, as the 'not urgent' things are completed and do not have a chance to become 'urgent'." (excerpt from

I was reminded about this easy way to prioritize when I read an article by Martha Beck the other day. I followed her advice to take 20-30 slips of paper and write on each everything that I could, should, want to, plan to, and dream to do. (I actually ended up filling out 40 slips.) Then, I divided each of those slips of paper into different categories, per her instructions, and ended up with 4 piles that corresponded with the 4 quadrants above. Imagine my chagrin when I went through the Quadrant 4 pile and found that most of the things in there were things I did EVERY SINGLE DAY for MOST OF THE DAY. Boy, that was an eye-opener! I felt a little sick to my stomach as I suddenly realized how many parts of my life have been slowly wilting.

Beck pointed out that while we all have to spend time in Quadrant I, we feel the most fulfilled when we spend our time in Quadrant II. Those tasks bring us the most satisfaction and fill most of our needs and desires.

In the vein of living a more enriching life, I'm gonna slow it down a bit in the blogging department. Don't cry for me. You'll like me much better this way.

[Posted song: "Turn! Turn! Turn!" by The Byrds]


Englishfam said...

I totally feel your pain Adhis. I feel like my life is in a whirlwind and I can't slow down enough to breath sometimes. I don't let people make me feel guilty about not blogging because it is for ME and nobody else ultimately right? Way to make a priority list (or pile). I might have to do one when I get some time! :)

dannielo said...

If you would like to implement some of Stephen Covey's best ideas, you can use this web aplication:

You can use it to manage and prioritize your Goals (in each of your life's categories), projects and tasks, in an intuitive interface. It has a Checklists section, for the repetitive activities you have to do, important but not urgent (Quadrant II, for example your routines/habits). Also, it features a Schedules section and a Calendar, for scheduling you time, activities and for the weekly review.

Some features from GTD are also present, like Contexts and Next Actions.

And it's available on the mobile phone too, so you can access it wherever you are.

islandgirl said...

Yeah, I've missed seeing Adhis posts lately, but I've been out of whack myself lately too. I've been slacking on the most important things too....great, timely article for me to read, now if I can just implement!

Kikibug said...

I loved this post! Thanks, you will be missed, but good for you. I haven't had time to read any blogs anyway. I want to check out that Covey site.

Kristen said...

Could you do me a favor? Re-create that chart for me, putting specific motherly tasks in the appropriate quadrant:

Changing diapers, washing dishes, laundry, mopping, picking up toys, making meals, kids' homework, shower, makeup, service, callings, personal time, date time, sleep, playing with kids, going on outings...

Really I was trying to fit them all in the right boxes and I'm wondering if most of motherhood is doing the non-urgent, seemingly non-important things BEFORE they become urgent and neglected. Or maybe they're all urgent and important in the first place and that's why there's not enough hours in the day. Hmmm. I'll be waiting for that chart.

Adhis said...

I looked at your list and 25% falls into Quadrant I, 62.5% into Quadrant II, and the last 12.5% depends on the motivation behind those activities and how essential they are towards your productivity.

That's pretty good. Which proves that mommyhood is the most important job in the world.

Kristen said...

I knew you could do it! And you did it just for me? Thanks! I loved your explanation.

I just started reading a book called "Don't Trip on Your Clouds of Glory" that discusses a similar theme. We're happiest and most productive when we're doing the things that we value.

Thanks for the food for thought.