Beat the Clock

Without the ability to honour our selves we will fall at the first hurdle when it comes to effective self management. It boils down to character and proactive growth. In particular –discipline.

No one like this word, especially self – discipline. Apparently the word derives from disciple meaning the follower of a leader, teacher or philosophy. So in order to be an effective manager of self you need to be a disciple of your own philosophy or beliefs and values. Since you have already decided what your own philosophy, values and beliefs are, you can now live a life that follows through.

For many this is the hard part! It’s often easier to the find quick fix or solve an immediate need/problem than be true to what we really believe is the best course of action of our lives.

This is where integrity is vital if you are going to be true to yourself and fulfill your potential.

Steven Covey’s 1V quadrant system

Rather than focusing on things and time, Covey realises it is far better to concentrate on relationships and achieving results.

With this in mind he has devised the four quadrant method

Time is spent in one of two ways: Urgent and important


Telephone calls
Insist on action
Often popular with others
We react to them!


Results based
Contributes to your mission and values
High priority goals
Require more initiative and proactivity

If we don’t know what is important, of the outcomes we desire in our lives, we are constantly side tracked by urgent.

Who lives in a house like this?

Quadrant 1:

These people are consumed by crises or problems. Let’s be honest here, we all have situations like this in our lives at some time. But a typical quadrant 1 dwellers are crisis managers, problem minded people and deadline producers.

As long as you keep the focus on quadrant 1, the crises and problems keep getting bigger and bigger. Rather like gigantic waves, one after another knocks you down. Eventually you cannot keep on getting up.

The result:

Crisis management
Always putting out fires

The only escape quadrant 1 dwellers have is into the not urgent nor important activities of quadrant 4. Here they find rest and relaxation away from the stresses of quadrant 1 activities.

Their time matrix is composed of around 90% in quadrant 1 and 10% in quadrant 4. Very little time is spent in quadrants 2 or 3.

Quadrant 3:

So how do quadrant 3 dwellers spend their time? They mistakenly believe that they are in the first quadrant dealing with urgent and important activities. In reality they are actually managing urgent but non important activities.

Reacting to circumstances usually originating from the priorities and expectations of others they live in false reality. They tend to have a short term focus with a crisis management mentality. Not having their own mission statement and value system they exhibit chameleon qualities in order to ‘improve’ their reputation. They see goals and plans as worthless and often feel victimised and out of control. Shallow and or broken relationships seem to be the norm.

Quadrant 4:

You can spot these people a long way off! They have a poor work ethic and seem totally focused on enjoying themselves. Have a little thought for others yet are often dependent on others or circumstance to feel good about themselves.

The result of quadrant 3 and 4 living:

Total irresponsibility
Fired from jobs
Dependency on others and circumstances/institutions

Where do effective people choose to live?

They avoid quadrants 3 and 4 like the plague and minimize quadrant 1 down to size! They understand that just because something is urgent it may not be important. Spending more time in quadrant 2 enables them to minimize what happens in quadrant 1.

At the heart of an effective persons home is quadrant 2. Here they can dwell with a personal management system that are not urgent but are important. These things include:

Building relationships
Writing a personal mission statement
Long range planning
Preventative maintenance

The result:

Vision and perspective
Few crises

None of this is new. You knew this already but because it wasn’t urgent you didn’t do it!

The thinking of a quadrant 2 person:

Be opportunity minded not problem centered. Think preventatively. Remember the old saying feed a fever starve a cold? Change it to feed opportunities and starve problems. (Peter Drucker) You won’t stop getting a cold but you will start to be more effective and less stressed!

1. What one thing (that you’re not doing now) could you do that if done regularly would bring about positive change in your personal life?
2. What one thing in your professional life would bring about similar change

Are they quadrant 2 answers?

Remember the 80/20 rule: 80% of the results from 20% of the activities.


Which activities are in each quadrant in your life in terms of:

Personal life

Steps to move into quadrant 2:

1. Start packing

Making a start by saying ‘no’

You will probably be thinking that it’s impossible to find the time to start working on quadrant 2. Here’s the trick. The time has to come from quadrants 3 and 4 to begin with. In order to do this you will need to work on your skills of saying ‘no’.

This isn’t something new. Ask the question ‘by saying ‘yes’ to x I am saying ‘no’ to y. By saying ‘no’ to some of the urgent stuff in quadrant 1 and ‘no’ to some of the pleasant activities in quadrant 4, you will begin to create the time needed to address those important things in quadrant 2.
Remember that ‘the enemy of the ‘best’ is often the ‘good’’ Steven Covey


What can you begin to say ‘no’ to this week?

Step 2: Load the van

Use a principle centered source as the basis for your house move into quadrant 2. You will then need:

An ability to prioritise
An ability to organize around those priorities
And the discipline to follow through

I.e.: a balance between increasing our production and our production capability.

Remember unless you have that bigger ‘yes’ burning inside you will be pulled back into quadrants 1, 3 and 4.

Loading gear:

Without the following tools you will not be able to make the move into quadrant 2

Harmony: this is vital if you are going to have a quality of life and enjoy the journey. There must be coherence between your purpose and plans, your roles and responsibilities and your desires and discipline.

It may help to keep a copy of your mission statement in your journal/planner to keep the balance at the forefront of your mind.

Balance: What’s the use of having success in one area if there is repeated failure in another? A successful career doesn’t really compensate for a broken marriage, poor health or a character weakness/flaw.

Correct specs! It’s all about focus: remember the lock on lock out tool where you discovered it was much easier to focus on a goal/topic when you locked onto it and locked out that which didn’t contribute? Use it here. Forget daily planning and focus instead on scheduling your priorities. It is then much easier to slot in first those activities which are important and match your mission, as well as the urgent.

People power: effective schedules require effective people. A principle centered person remembers to invest in people. Schedules and crises are not more important than the people who mange them. Value and encourage those around you rather than create guilt when a schedule is not met.

Pliability: think of your schedule as your servant not your master. It is there to help you not create more stress! It must reflect your particular style and methods.

Portability: An organizer needs to be mobile so you can have it with you at all times. Imagine you are stuck in traffic, that’s an ideal time to review your mission statement. Maybe you need to reschedule, you can if you’re away from the office and have your particular device with you.

Step 3. Moving in

So the van’s loaded and you’ve arrived at your new destination of quadrant 2. The following will help you unload and settle into your new home.

What’s my role?

Think about the roles from your mission statement. Think about where you spend time during the week.

E.G Yourself. Wife, mother, daughter, job title, community/voluntary, church


Consider what you want to accomplish during the week in each area. Link these short term goals to your longer term ones and your mission statement. Ensure quadrant 2 activities are included.

Summary: You can beat the clock as you:

Operate self discipline
Live according to your mission statement
Move into and enjoy living in quadrant 2

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