Time Management and the Four Quadrants

It’s no secret that the key to productivity and success is efficient time management. The secret is in how you learn to master time management.  There is a simple technique (a place to be actually) that will help anyone get more done and be more productive. However, most people do not know the technique and they are not wisely spending the majority of their time working there.

The place I am referring to is called “the zone.” It’s where you should be spending most of your time in order to master time management.

The zone is best described as a quadrant in a box with four quadrants.  The quadrants are labeled:

  • Quadrant One: important and urgent
  • Quadrant Two: important but not urgent
  • Quadrant Three: not important but urgent
  • Quadrant Four: not important and not urgent

What quadrant should you spend most of your time and energy working? You probably thought to yourself, “quadrant one, of course! I should focus on the tasks and projects that are important and urgent.”

Stay Away from the Cycle of Doom

Wrong! Spending all your time in quadrant one is a “cycle of doom.” You are actually wasting time and being mush less productive than you could be.

So where should you be spending the majority of your time?  You should be in quadrant number two, also known as, “the zone.”

When you can learn to work the majority of the time in quadrant two and be in “the zone, “ you will be much more effectively managing your time and getting a lot more done.

In quadrant two, you will focus on getting the important things done. If you don’t, it’s not long before what was important, but not urgent, is suddenly in quadrant one. Those tasks will quickly become important AND urgent. This makes the task at hand much more stressful. When you focus on working in quadrant two and not delaying important tasks, they get done. As a result, they don’t become something that you need to ultimately panic about!

It is difficult to effectively manage your time if you are bouncing around from quadrant to quadrant. It might feel productive to be working madly to finish an urgent and important task, but that is just a delusion.

“As human beings we are programmed to operate in the “quadrant of delusion” (quadrant one). We feel like we are getting things done, handling urgent things but their actually not important and should have been handled before they became urgent!”

Often people themselves in quadrant number three maybe thanks to a co-worker, who says, “this is urgent” even if it’s not important to you necessarily.  It’s easy to be distracted into working on their urgent project and letting your own important tasks languish.

Avoiding Quadrant Four

Firmly avoid, quadrant four, which is also known as the “quadrant of distraction.” This can happen when you are feeling overwhelmed by what is in quadrants one and three.  When this occurs, you end up busying yourself with non-important tasks of no urgency to distract yourself from the stress of feeling unproductive or overwhelmed.

Leave those non-important tasks that have no urgency and get back into “the zone.” Focus on staying in quadrant two, where you handle the important things before they become urgent.

Get yourself in the zone. Focus on doing things that are important, but not urgent. Be focused-100% focused-on the thing you are doing. Makes sure you are doing the things that are not yet urgent.”

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