Dwight Eisenhower had a matrix that Stephen Covey made famous in his book, 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. It’s a four quadrant diagram that categorizes your activities as urgent and important (fires), not urgent and important (planning and intentional tasks), not important and urgent (interruptions, forced deadlines by others), and neither urgent nor important (returning non-important emails, surfing social media).
The trick, it would seem to me, would be to avoid living in the daily reactive world of Q1 of urgent and important, unless you had planned and constructed those activities while in Q2. This would allow you and your team members to enter Q1 in a more proactive state, thereby giving you much better results.
Think Nascar. Nascar racers and their pit crews spend a HUGE amount of time, energy and money doing everything they can to shave even a couple of seconds off of their pit stop time. They have to be in the Q2 thinking of not urgent but important to plan it, but during the race, they are in urgent and important intentionally and BAM! They can win the race if they get those pit stops just right.
What you want to practice doing is spend time in Q2 so you can proactively move into Q1. Without time in Q2 you will spend most of your time in a reactive mode of thinking and acting when things are actually urgent and important. Spending all your time in Q1 in a reactive mode is a design flaw in your system. You need to take yourself into the repair shop and get realigned.
How much time are you planning those activities that you know are going to be needed to make your business profitable or organization successful?
Exercise for you and your team:
Have each person review their calendars and task list and categorize the items into:
Q1 – Urgent and Important (Snow removal, Customer requests for new service)
Q2 – Important but not Urgent this week (Planning activities, Exercise, Vacation)
Q3 – Not Important but Urgent (Interruptions, Forced deadlines, gossip – drama!)
Q4 – Not Urgent and Not Important (estimate the # of hours spent on email each day and assign a dollar figure to each of those hours)
Estimate how many hours are being spent in each of the quadrants and their cost.
Next, determine how much you are going to save when you take the time to properly plan systems of operations that will eliminate Q4 and drastically reduce Q3.
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