We live in a time pressured world, with emails constantly hitting our inboxes, messages pinging on our phones plus meetings and phone calls. We are constantly being distracted.
As a result, we tend to be almost constantly focusing on the “urgent”. Strategic plans can be neglected.
Many years ago, I learned about Alex Czarto’s “The Four Quadrants of Time Management”. This matrix split our daily activities into 4 quadrants.
- Important and urgent (immediate and important deadlines)
- Important and not urgent (prevention, planning, improvements)
- Not important and urgent (interruptions)
- Not important and not urgent (time wasters)
Everything we do in life, according to Czarto, can be classified by its urgency and by its importance.
He says we often spend our lives focused on the urgent things instead of the important things.
In the business world, it’s obvious that the main non-urgent goals matter to the leader. However, it’s better when those goals also truly matter to the team.
Regular progress meetings may help maintain the focus on Quadrant 2 projects.
I have found that investing time in educational seminars or conferences helps me focus on Quadrant 2 issues.
After a day of presentations and interactions, I have often sat quietly over an evening meal with pen and paper jotting down ideas and plans to implement on my return.
Many of these ideas can be then shared with the team so that they can be actively involved in planning for the future.