“The Enemy of the Best is the Good!” Stephen Covey

The 3rd habit of “first things first” means to organize and execute around our personal values and priorities. Our values and priorities are unique and should be built around our personal mission statements. However, many calendar scheduling systems prioritize efficiency and do not take into account our personal values and priorities. Efficiency calendar scheduling has its positive attributes but it can be counterproductive to creating value based priorities that schedule around creating rich relationships, meeting human needs and enjoying spontaneous moments on a daily basis, according to Dr. Covey.

In the 3rd Habit, we learn that Dr. Covey’s “Time Management Matrix” has 4 Quadrants in regard to the activities we put our time in on a daily basis.

Quadrant 1 is the “Urgent” …crisis management mode.

Quadrant 2 is the “Not Urgent” but “Important” activities, especially activities that move us in the direction of our “personal mission” and values. These would be activities like updating our computer skills, taking classes that help us better handle our careers, spending quality time with family and participating in activities that keep us fit…like walking 3 times a week.😆😇 Additionally, we want to spend time in committing to activities that enhance our ability to accomplish our personal mission. For example if owning your own business and being able to sell online is a part of it, then invest time in learning how to do business online is important. Although, you may not love it, you know it will help you do your job better. 

Quadrant 3 is the “Non important”…activities like busy work…constant interruptions, unnecessary meetings, spending excessive time on Facebook…you know 😆

Quadrant 4 are “Not Important”…activities like numbing and escape activities like excessive junk tv or overeating and drinking.

What we learn from this is, that it is Quadrant 2 where we should really concentrate our time.  If we spend our time in doing activities that move us closer to our personal missions, we are then more equipped to prevent urgencies and crisis situations. Urgent matters often insist upon action and are popular with others because when we solve them it puts us in the hero spotlight. This can become very addicting. But ask yourself, could this crisis have been prevented? At what cost have we sacrificed to “feel needed”?

A constant crisis mentality comes at the sacrifice of “Important” things like activities that will contribute to our mission, values and high priority goals. If we continue to remain in the urgent or crisis mode, we will be sacrificing the opportunity to move towards our personal missions and value priorities. Covey writes, “As long as you focus on Quadrant I, it keeps getting bigger until it dominates you.”  In quadrant 2, we are able to spend our time on activities that help prevent crisis (like divorce, health concerns or burned out).

So how do we start? Obviously we know we have to not spend excessive time in Quadrants 3 and 4 but we can’t ignore urgent matters. Dr. Covey suggests that in order to find time to spend in quadrant 2 in the beginning we have to take time from Quadrant 3 and 4. Covey states “You have to be proactive to work on Quadrant 2 because Quadrant 1 and 3 work on you.” In other words we have to begin to say no to things that others can do for themselves.This gives them the opportunity to feel more in control of their own lives and depend on you less. They will feel better about themselves and in time better about you because you had the confidence in them to trust and empower them. 

Best wishes to you always,