How to Find the Right Mindset to Succeed With Time Management

It is Wednesday, so to kick this time management series off I want to share a mindset that can make the whole difference.

For the past several years I have worked with time management techniques such as lists, prioritization, planning and so on.

But it wasn’t until I adopted a Quadrant 2 mindset that I really started seeing results.
The phrase “Quadrant 2” comes from Stephen Coveys book The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People.

Every task you need to do can be split into one of the 4 quadrants:

1. Urgent and Important
These are tasks that need to be done ASAP. It can be answering an important call, picking up the kids from school or paying the bills. Anything that you need to do right this minute and has an important impact on your life is a “Quadrant 1″ task.

2. Not urgent but Important
These are your most important tasks.
These tasks are what will make a difference for you down the road.
They aren’t urgent but make a difference in your life. The consequence of not working with them will severally hurt your chances of success, even if it doesn’t feel important right now, but over time negligence will make them a severe problem.

It can be anything from reading up on your industry to training your employees to solving problems more efficiently (freeing up more time for yourself).

3. Urgent but Not Important
This is a quadrant we often get stuck in. Someone comes into your office to ask a favor, the phone rings and so on.
Things that are not very important but need to be done now (like answering the phone) take up a lot of time and disrupt our planning.

4. Not Urgent and Not Important
This is the quiet retreat for stressed people. These are things that you don’t need to do at all, but because you are so tired you waste time.
For example playing computer games while at work.

How to tackle the different tasks
Each task needs to be tackled in a specific way, at a specific time and handled right.
If you look at quadrant 4 (not urgent, not important) you can see that it is a quadrant we often get stuck in and spend a lot of time in because of we are so stressed and tired.
The problem is that it doesn’t get anything valuable done, and the tasks we need to do wont just go away. We need to get them done anyway.
Quadrant 4 is therefore the worst possible haven for stressed people, it just causes more stress.

Quadrant 1
We do not have any choice but to do these tasks since if we do not complete them the repercussions could be bad. What is important is to not mix up quadrant 1 and 3. If a task doesn’t have significant repercussions it isn’t a quadrant 1 task.

Quadrant 2
Prevention is the word that best describes Quadrant 2. It is about being proactive, solving problems before they become crises, training employees to do things without your constant input, reading up on your industry so you don’t find yourself all of a sudden so far behind on knowledge that you either become useless or have to spend a week just reading up on past news.

It is about being a step ahead.

The great thing about working in Quadrant 2 is that you feel the same sense of fulfillment and achievement when completing tasks as you do when working in Quadrant 1 but without all the stress and pressure of the first quadrant.

Quadrant 3
These tasks are the most difficult to handle but the most important to get rid of. You need to be able to see when it will take a longer time to ignore the task then to just take care of it at once, you need to see when it is better to just say “no”.

This is something that takes time to master but once you have and you have gotten rid of all Quadrant 4 tasks and most Quadrant 3 you will be able to spend the majority of your time working on high priority tasks and most of the time doing it without the constant stress of Quadrant 1.

There are hundreds (in fact my friend Timo published a post of 101 time management tips you can take a look at, they aren’t all related to Quadrant 2, but it is a very interesting read) of ways Quadrant 2 work can free up time for you but at its center it focuses on you shifting your focus from reacting to situations to working on prevention and setting up systems to get your job done more efficiently.

Continuing our Time Management Development
As we continue working on time management I want you to remember this mindset, use all the exercises we discuss to further increase the time you spend in Quadrant 2 and decrease the time you spend in the other Quadrants.

If you are successful at this you will start to become your own master and in full control over your days, which is an enormous stress reliever.

Next week we will be publishing the first exercise that you can implement to increase your productivity and time off.

If you do not want to wait until next week to get more advice on time management you can join our free e-mail course “Your Path to Your Dreams” it starts with a section on time management that has been very popular.
Join today and start moving towards your goals today.

Here is the link to the newsletter:
“Your Path to Your Dreams”

Photo Credit: alancleaver_2000


Related posts:

  1. The Most Important Time Management Skill – Planning by the Week
  2. My Favorite Time Management Tip – Organizing by the Day
  3. 6 Effective Time Management Skills
  4. Becoming More Efficient Than Your Peers – 7 Time Management Techniques That Will Put You Ahead
  5. Here is a Method That Will Help You Eliminate Stress Once and For All
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10 Responses to How to Find the Right Mindset to Succeed With Time Management

  1. Graham Lutz says:

    I think the best way to conquer quadrant 3 tasks is to plan, in advance, to not do them. You can plan to not answer the phone between 8 am and 10 am, or plan to not look at email at certain times.

    You can get back to emails and phone calls later.

    The art of saying “no” to requests around the office is a great skill to acquire!

    • Daniel M. Wood says:

      Hey Graham,

      Great advice.
      Saying “no” is what makes the whole process managable.
      I think planning your quadrant 3 tasks in advance make a really big difference and make it a lot easier to handle.

  2. Jk Allen says:

    This is a great frame work to high productivity. As I’ve shared with you in the past Daniel, this is something I’m very interested in because I have so much on my plate that if I’m not working smartly, I let a lot of good time past me by.

    Thanks for providing this and can’t wait for next week’s series!


    • Daniel M. Wood says:

      Hey JK.

      I hope the series helps you.
      Next week we will be discussing planning by the week which is probably the best time saver you can find.

      I look forward to hearing what you think.

  3. Good post Daniel. I’m a big fan of Covey. Looking forward to the rest of the series. It’s interesting that sometimes I find that I have spare time on my hands and feel a touch guilty about it, but then realize that I’m just becoming better organized and managing my time better

    • Daniel M. Wood says:

      Hey Riley,

      I know the feeling. I have 35 minutes left of my day and only 20 minutes of work to do. I almost want to procrastinate to make sure I don’t finish too soon, which is of course really stupid.

      Just got to keep focusing and accepting that we are getting as much, if not more done with less time.

  4. Wow Daniel. You wrote the mindset post and you get an A+! There is so much great information here.

    I especially like your discussion on quadrants 3 and 4. Saying No is a critical skill and way more difficult than saying yes. And while I like to organize activities some things are best handled on the spot. I hate handling a phone message three times before I ever make the call. Or, reading an e-mail more than once. Just do it and move on. Most of the activities in 3 and 4 are reactive.

    Which is why I agree completely about what you said in quadrant 2. Be proactive. If you spend all of your time being reactive, you are working IN your business. You are not working on your vision, goals or strategies. These activities DO make a difference down the road.

    I love this series. Looking forward to seeing your exercise next week!


    • Daniel M. Wood says:

      Thanks a lot Theresa.
      I really like the Quadrant 2 mindset, it helps you keep on track and work more efficiently.

      When you prioritize you should always be thinking of the long term consequences. The lessons from this mindset can help you keep your eye on the long term.

      Thanks for your continued support Theresa, I really appriciate it.

  5. Doug Rice says:

    Great post, Daniel. I’m reading “7 Habits” finally but haven’t gotten that far yet. I’ll try to incorporate these ideas into my everyday routine. It’s a gear way to think about time management and keep me from wasting valuable time.

    • Daniel M. Wood says:

      Hey Doug,

      I hope you like the book.
      It takes a while to absorb all the lessons but when you do they really make a big difference.

      Let me know what you think.

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