Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Time Quadrants

STM provided me with a powerful way to lead life. Following is one of the concepts of Time Quadrants. It is also covered in one of Stephen Covey's books on self management.

I typed it as an email to a friend, and simply pasting my email here:

Time Quadrants:
We can map our whole life into four quadrants. Why should we do it? Because if we don't, we are unplanned, and "Failing to plan is planning to fail".

IMPORTANT

NOT-IMPORTANT

URGENT

Q1

Q2

NOT URGENT

Q3

Q4


It is important to know things that are Not Important to us. Because we have to let go of them from our routines.

Q1 - Important & Urgent:
Receiving a phone call is a Q1 activity, or simply a Q1. But remember that the phone call ITSELF if not your Q1, it is an External Q1, unanticipated, something you cannot Plan. But you can plan to receive a phone call or to let your phone ringing (if you have some more prior Q1 - like while praying we are in a Q1 state, we cannot divert our attentions to something else).

Q1s are usually stress zones, and minimal things should be done in Q1. During stress, brain secrets cortisol - a chemical that affects brain cells (there is long detail of affects of stress on human body). We should reduce Q1s so much, so that Q2 gets more time.

Q2 - Important but Not Urgent:
Preparing for an exam is an Q2. If this Q2 is planned well, you will never panic before exam, never get stressed, and the exam will go better as well - good results!
Q2 is the quality zone of our life. We plan, think, and act according to that well-defined plan, yielding us good results. This is where I think you should put your relationship... Planned - Well thought.

Focus more and more over Q2s.

"The degree of success of a person is directly proportional to the number of hours he / she puts in Q2 activities in a day."

If Q2s are not focused upon, they become Q1s. For example, if you don't prepare for exams, eventually you will have to prepare in haste which will result in bad preparation and thus bad results. Usually, this happens. We procrastinate things, so much so that they one day come up to our face and we then have to do it under stress.

Q3 - Urgent but Not Important:
Receiving a silly friend's phone call who is very excited about his/her exam results and have already called 4-5 times... it is urgent to attend this call, but not really important... i mean not Really Really important... We can't do much about Q3s, they are usually External.. but we can prioritize Q3s.

Q4 - Not Urgent and Not Important:
TV! Chatting! Day-Dreaming! Movie watching!... Q4 is deadly... it derails us from our main target, it demotivates us and we do not even get to know that we are Demotivated. The best thing to do for Q4s is to drop them as much as possible.

  • Q1s must be minimized
  • Q2s must be focused more and given more time
  • Q3s must be filtered
  • Q4s must be dropped as quickest as possible
Now, you can think of your Q1, Q2, Q3 and Q4 activities.

This will help you get some peace/sanity. Practice the time quadrants as you feel like.

Cheers!
Zain

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