Episode 182- The Four Quadrants


One of the books and the messages than had a profound effect on me, to go from where I was to where I wanted to go to was a book called the Seven Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen Covey. Now, there were so many gems in this book. It was in the very beginning of my entrepreneurial phase. I’m pretty sure I read it in 2005 when I started to read all these books that I had never heard of before and it couldn’t help think to myself all these years that I was in school and in college. Why are all these books I was reading now? Why were none of them introduced to me in school? That’s why I love it. I’ll meet somebody that’s been in the world that I used to be in. Then all of a sudden they discover this and they start reading these books and listen to these podcasts and you can see the change.


You could see the mindset and the excitement and all the possibilities start rushing into their head. It’s like a whole new world’s been introduced to them. And this book along with rich dad, poor dad QBQ by John Miller, Dave Ramsey, Dan Miller, Michael Port’s Book Yourself Solid, a ton of Seth Godin books, all around the same time. I read them in more and it led to a dramatic shift in the way I thought and the way I worked and the way I connected. But this book, Seven Habits of Highly Effective People was a big deal for me. And the part that hit home the most was when he laid out as four quadrants. And I’m going to run through them today with you and explain why they were so impactful in what quadrant is where I realized I needed to spend my time. So with these quadrants, you basically place each activity you do into one of these four quadrants.


So quadrant one is urgent and important. Quadrant two is not urgent and important. Quadrant three is urgent and not important. And quadrant four is not urgent and not important. And as Covey said, the challenge is not to manage time, but to manage ourselves. So the idea behind quadrant one are things that require your immediate attention. These are things you couldn’t have foreseen or maybe things that could have a few or a plan for them. So what you do in your in quadrant one is you’re managing crisises and problems. And a lot of people spend time here. Spend a lot of time here. If your life, if your activities revolve around drama, you will spend a significant amount of time in quadrant one because the more time you spend in quadrant one putting out fires, the less time you spend on activities that will prevent quadrant one activities.


So you constantly go from fire to fire putting it out, never planning ahead, never learning and living in a state of constant panic and anxiety. What it does is, as we’ve seen with so many people is it leads to stress and it leads to burnout because this never ends. Quadrant two though are things that are not urgent, but they’re important. So these are things like relationship building, building your network, building your network is never urgent unless you’re in quadrant one and an example of that is you’re writing in a book, but you need a big time endorsement. So you spent no time developing relationships, having conversations, go into conferences, meeting with different people. That would be great to endorse your book. You spent no time on that. But now your book publisher is saying who’s endorsing the book? And then you try to scramble to get an endorsement that’s urgent and that’s important, but it’s not doing the right way.


So in quadrant two, when you’re not urgent but important, you’re doing all those things before you need it. Exercises the same way. When do people actually make a change in their health when they’re desperate, when something’s gone wrong, when they feel awful, when their doctor says they need to change, now that’s when they do it again. Instead of doing it in quadrant two they’ve deferred to now they have to do it in quadrant one which is not good for the health and it’s not good for longterm planning. So all these things, strategic planning, education, personal development, all the things we know we need to do, but we don’t really get around to it because it’s not urgent. Then there’s quadrant three. These are the things that are urgent but not important, and this is a world that so many of us live in today and here’s why.


When he wrote this book in 1989 there were certainly distractions, but those distractions pale in comparison to what we have in terms of distractions today. Think about the people that message you or somebody that needs something right now, but when it comes to your life at this moment, it’s not important. Like we’ve said, often your lack of planning doesn’t lead to my emergency. A lot of meetings can fall into this. The most successful people I know often do not take meetings. Also somebody else’s phone call where they might just be looking to waste time. That’s an urgent thing when the phone rings, but it’s not always important. So when you’re in the spot, when you’re in quadrant three you need to learn how to say the magic word of know or figure out ways of delegating this or outsourcing this to are quadrant three activities.


Don’t take up a whole lot of your time. And then there’s quadrant four which is not urgent and not important. So if you are scrolling social media for long periods of time, if you were just laying in front of the television endlessly channel surfing, spending hours on social media and on the internet with nothing but mindless entertainment. Yup, that’s quadrant two. See I wouldn’t say daydreaming and thinking is in here cause I don’t think you need to be doing something active for it to be important. Some of my best ideas come from just sitting there doing nothing and thinking but mindlessly being entertained for long periods of time. Certainly qualify for quadrant four which is not urgent and not important. So after reading this, this really compartmentalized everything for me in terms of how I spent my time. And it was quite obvious and I think it’s obvious to you that the best quadrant to spend time in it’s quadrant to the time of not urgent and important.


If you work out and exercise before you need to, you’re going to be healthier and stronger longer. If you reach out and build connections and relationships before you might need anything. When you do need something, if you ever do need something, the chance of that relationship yielding something that’s going to benefit you, it’s going to be way higher. Think about how many times have you got the phone call or message from somebody you haven’t heard from in years and they want something immediately that somebody living in quadrant one, not quadrant two which is you can see if you do that over and over again, it’s going to lead to less success in their life. So I can point back to this book and these quadrants as when my time efficiency became so much greater and the crazy part about it as I spend my time in quadrant two not only is my life become more efficient and successful, but I have a whole lot more free time because the things that are most important get done first and that leaves time for the other things.


If you want to do it, if you’ve done all the things you needed to do in quadrant two for the day, you stay in shape, you build your business, you build your relationships and you do that effectively and efficiently. There’s time for all those other things if you want them. The problem is as you do this, you find out you don’t really want them, but most people are so busy in quadrant one, three and four and they wind up being so busy while getting so little done that if they can learn to switch and do quadrant two stuff first and spend most of your time there, I can assure you your success levels and your happiness as well as the quality of your relationships will increase day after day. I hope that helps and I’ll be back with you tomorrow.

Leave a Comment