Why is it that we neglect some of the most important things in our lives? We treat strangers better than our own families and loved ones? Why is it that the book we want to read, the trip we wish to take, or some other event that we want to do gets pushed to the side. I’ll do that someday… When I get the new job, when the kids grow up, when……..
My answer is simple, because these items are important, but not urgent. There are no deadlines. No rush. Important but not urgent = Quadrant II.
Steven Covey covers all of this in his book, Seven Habits of Highly Successful People. However, I’ve been trying to live and do things I’ve read and done. So this is from my perspective.
Things in Quadrant II are:
The reason things don’t happen here often is because we can always do it later. I have seen this sign many times in different offices:
“Lack of planning on your part does not constitute and emergency on my part.”
Being prepared, planning, prevention, all take some time; there is an opportunity cost. Several years ago I had a discussion with one of my sons. He had started collage, and there was a lot he wanted to do. I was trying to impress upon him the importance of good grades. He told me so many people wanted so many things, how do you do it?
The cost of getting good grades is not doing some of the fun things until you get the school things done. That is called an opportunity cost. An opportunity cost is two activities that happen simultaneously. Doing one activity instead of the other activity is the cost. Go to the movie, or study for the test. Going to the movie is the choice, the opportunity cost for attending the movie is a low score on the test. And vice versa. This is also balance in life.
The goal is to reduce stress in life. Find happiness. Find peace, fulfillment and a dozen other things I could name. Stay out of Quadrant I, or enter Quadrant I prepared.
So block out time to plan your day or week. A strong fulfilling relationship just doesn’t happen. Personal Development is no accident. What is the opportunity cost of not planning, not being prepared? A lot of stress.
When I have done what I’m about to explain, I find my life is less hectic. Unfortunately, I have not followed this advice lately and I am feeling the effects. So I am committing to do this again, to find that balance in my own life. This post is as much for me and I share with you.
First of all make the time to plan. There is at least an hour or two a week where you can sequester yourself with yourself and think. Thinking is very important. It is hard work. People view physical labor as work, but thinking is work, and it can be very productive, if the thoughts become actions…
Write down what needs to be done that day or that week. What meetings do you have? What deadlines are looming, what needs to be done for a class, your boss, your loved one? What can you do to make it better? When will these things be done? When will you read that book? I never read a book in one sitting. You can find a moment here and there to read. Eventually the book is read.
Find reasons to get things done. Do not allow yourself to make excuses for why you are not getting things done, eliminate the activates that are stopping you from doing the things you want to do. Identify the time wasters in your life and take steps to eliminate them.
As you do the quadrant II preparations you’ll find the stresses and urgent interruptions will lessen. It is a lifetime of working. There have been times in my own life where I was really, really good at doing the planning and execution. Currently I am not as good as I’d like to be. So I am working on getting back there again. When I’ve done the Quadrant II things, my whole stress level is lower, and my relationships are better. Life is better.
If you want to change things in your life, you must first look at what you need to change within yourself. You can only control you. You can affect and effect others and things, but you cannot control them.
What have you found useful for effective planning?