Consulting Pulse: Time Management – Covey’s 4 quadrants

Posted on December 14, 2009 by



Urgent? Or Not?

Great conversation Friday with a long term colleague regarding process improvements, Lean Six Sigma, etc.  He reminded me of one of Stephen Covey’s (7 Habit’s Fame) key time management principles of the quadrant theory – that is four places we spend time on arranged by Urgency and Importance.

Consulting services in 2009 found a good amount of my time in a Quad 1 zone (1,643 hours of Import/Urgent work through Nov 16, 2009).  It becomes habit-forming.  The push of the daily project grind and predictable billable hours becomes somewhat intoxicating.  Getting off that gerbil wheel from time to time is a sanity check – though unnerving at first.
It has been enjoyable hitting Quad 2 (Import Not Urgent) for planning, recreation and relationship building.  There were several longer term tasks that had been shelved.
Those tasks now receiving some TLC are:
  • Moving the TAPUniversity DNS server
  • Moving the TAPUniversity email
  • Rethinking our sales and marketing approach with Laura for online learning
  • Extending partner and academic relationships
Additional Quadrant 4 activities have been shaping a CoachDaveK fitness blog, spending a little more time with my family (though I grumbled through some it during three “snow” days last week) and carefully thinking, praying and planning for 2010 and beyond.
The danger with Facebook and similar “networking tools” is slipping into Quad 4 of Unimportant/Not Urgent (can we say flair and mafia wars?) .  To help curb this danger I’ve had an encounter of managing a Quad 1 issues (2 laptops failing) through Quad 2 approach – that is using desktop computers at home and office, accessing email on IMAP and actually shutting off “computer activity” for several hours a day.  Whoa, culture shock.  One small but likely important activity was actually playing cards with my oldest daughter last night (wow, she has some serious Speed, Kings a Corner and shuffling skills, since the 529 college savings plan has taken a hit – thinking she may be able to hit the junior world circuit of poker for college $$$).    Another “hello” moment is talking with people over the phone or in person instead of updating via 18 different networking ways
For more on this classic time management approach – take a peek at the table below.  Also check out Stephen’s blog!

Stephen Covey’s Four Time Management Quadrants (1994)