During the last couple of days I have written that we have more capacity to do the things that truly matters to us, than what we may think. Most of us, who are not engaged in what is truly important, are wasting time doing things that do not really add to our overall quality of life, nor help us reach our goals.
The matrix below by Stephen Covey can be used to give us a good overview of how we spend our time and if it adds value to our lives.
As you go through this matrix, why don’t you reflect on and write down which one or two of the quadrants that you spend most of your time!
The first quadrant represents things we have no control over and that are both urgent and important. If we tend to procrastinate, we will often end up spending time in this quadrant and very well know what it feels like to be stressed out, as we have to run to try to squelch fire most of the time. I have in the past had a tendency to spend too much time here.
In the third quadrant we find people who are a bit all over the place, and often being directed by other people or other outside input . Here we find “yes man” and people pleasers, who spend their time with other people’s issues and needs, as they seem more urgent and important than what truly is important to them.
In the fourth quadrant we find slackers; people who are truly wasting their time by doing mindless things that is neither important nor urgent. Many teenagers are here.
The second quadrant represents people who are prioritizers and are consciously aware of their values. They schedule their time according to what will bring long-term satisfaction and wellbeing. These people have developed a strong character and are often achievers of excellence. Don’t we all want to find ourselves in this quadrant?
Today, I want to emphasize the very importance of saying NO to the things that do not lead us closer to our goals and things, which we truly value. We need to learn to say NO, even to the things we enjoy doing, like watching TV and films, talking on the phone, browsing on the computer, spending too much time on social events etc. We even have to say NO to what might seem healthy and good for us – such as doing too much sport, reading etc. – in order to leave time and space for other values and goals.
I consider myself as someone who does not waste a lot of time on mindless things. My problem is that I am a maximizer. I admit it. I have had a hard time saying NO to the things that I am accustomed to and enjoy, such as exercising. For several years I would spend too much time doing various sports – and if I looked around in the gym, I could see that I was not alone.
It is important to take a reality check and see if we perhaps hide and are stuck in our comfort zone by doing things we are used to and feel comfortable with. Anything we do in excess may be a sign that we are avoiding (perhaps out of fear of failure or fear of even success) the things that really would make a difference to the long-term quality of our lives.
Tomorrow I will talk about how we go about prioritizing our time around our values and how to attack BIG Goals.