A Woman's Got to Know Her Limitations #4: Choose Wisely

Limitation #4: Quadrants

Given my personality, I tend to only think it was a good day if my 'to-do' list is done, but no matter what your personality is, there's never enough hours in the day to do EVERYTHING on the list.  I recently came upon this very helpful way of looking at things in a book by Dave Ramsey, and it is SO helpful I wanted to share it with you.  (He credits Dr. Stephen Covey, who wrote "7 Habits of Effective People.")

We spend all our time in one of these 4 categories.

We do things that are:

1. Important AND Urgent
2. Important but NOT Urgent
3. NOT Important but Urgent
4. NOT Important and NOT Urgent

I'm sure you are already thinking of things for each category.   EVERYTHING we do fits into this list.  Activities can even move from category to category, depending on our goals.  Most reasonably responsible people will take care of #1: Important AND Urgent  Whether there is a school or business deadline, you need dinner, or your child falls down and gets hurt, we drop everything and get it done. 

Most people know to avoid spending very much time on #4 items: NOT Important and NOT Urgent  These are the morally neutral time wasters which can be different for everyone, but for me can include some Social Media, some T.V., and Crossword Puzzles.  Dave Ramsey calls these the "passive, unproductive moments and people."  I believe that some relaxation is necessary in everyone's life but it is easy to cross over from "relaxing" into "wasting time."

The problem areas are #3 and #2. 

#3: NOT Important but Urgent items are tricky.  They steel us away from what we should be doing, because they are urgent, so they SEEM important!  For me this can be the unplanned things that come up throughout the day that demand my attention such as; Ads that come in the mail or if one of the blogs I follow has a contest/give-away that requires a response. Or how about Email and Facebook notifications on my phone which may or may not be important, but the temptation to "check on them" immediately can cause me to loose my train of thought from what I was doing.  You get the idea.  There was book I heard of a while back called  The Tyranny of the Urgent   I haven't read it, but love the title.  Tyranny is defined as arbitrary or unrestrained exercise of power.  Why do we let these things take over our present time?  I want to say here, that these items may actually be important, once evaluated, but in my own life anyway, I need to come at them in an orderly way.  I can make decisions about them without deviating from the important thing that I am doing in the present moment.  For instance (and I have done this by the way): While I am making dinner, I get a little notice on my phone that I have an email coming in.  Let's say it's an advertisement from Christopher and Banks , my favorite online clothing source.  I have a choice...I can stop chopping vegies, and check on the ad, or I can "flag" it for later, when I need to have "relaxation" time and presently, get back to the chopping block.  Better yet...don't even check on it till later.  If I have already used up the clothing budget funds for that month, the ad is actually Not Important and Not Urgent and should not even be flagged.

(PAUSE:  Right now since this blog post is in the category of Important but NOT Urgent, I need to make dinner, so I will be back after dinner!)

OK... I'm back...

#2: Important but NOT Urgent activities are the ones we need to DO!  Dave's list is: "exercise, strategic planning, goal setting reading nonfiction leadership/business books, taking a class or three, relationship building, prayer, date night with your spouse, a day off devoted to brainstorming, doing your will/estate plan, saving money, and having the oil changed in your car."  We each have a unique list of things that are Important but NOT Urgent.  Mine include some of the same things...exercise, time with Gary, prayer, friendships, etc.  According to Dave, these activities are "the building blocks of a high-quality life and business and yet because they are not urgent, they seem to be some of the things we avoid the most."  He's right. He makes the point that if we avoid them, they will end up moving to the #1: Important AND URGENT category, because of neglect. If I don't get the oil changed regularly, my car will be needing expensive repairs...or worse.  You get the idea.
I'm trying really hard to budget time for #1 and #2 avoid and/or delegate #3 and avoid completely #4.
For a visual...here's the chart from Dr. Covey:
Lego Indiana Jones (Neither Important nor Urgent)