Are you in quadrant 2? 17 May 2013

STEPHEN COVEY was a management consultant famous for his book The Seven Habits of Highly Successful People.

The book provided some interesting advice about prioritising work and included the diagram below:


                                     URGENT                   NOT URGENT


IMPORTANT                            1                            2



IMPORTANT                            3                            4


Quadrant 4 work can wait – it’s the play work, such as opening the mail and doing the banking. You may say banking is important. Maybe, but it’s not an activity which will increase your profits or sales. You can make up your banking when all other business has ceased for the day. Better, you may be able to delegate this task. In this sense it’s not an important job.

The valuable quadrant is number 2. If you’re running your business well, you’ll be putting more than half your time into quadrant 2 type work. This is working on your business rather than in it. It’s planning and developing ways to expand the business.

Example: A builder was unemployed. He wrote to all the school principals in the area asking if they had work. He followed up with a phone call. This is typical quadrant 2 work. Incidentally, he succeeded in creating a good business. 

By focusing on quadrant 2 you will turn your business from ordinary into extra-ordinary. This quadrant focuses on the non-urgent but important work. It’s the work you should be doing but usually avoid, mostly because you’re too busy.

A client is swamped with work. He has a semi-retired mate who could do some of the work for

him and so increase his profit.

“Have you contacted Rob yet?” I asked.

The answer: “No, I’ve been too busy.”

If he’s going to make progress with his business, he’ll need to make time.

Most people ignore quadrant 2. That’s why they never get anywhere. If your profit is much the same year to year, you are ignoring quadrant 2.

Work out the things which are important to push your business ahead. Give them priority. They include planning and implementing your plan. They include gathering business know-how by reading, attending seminars and any other means.

Keep a diary, and account for each day. If you can show you’re putting at least half your time, most weeks, into that important but not urgent work and you’re working hard at it, your business should grow.

Covey said it’s better to set yourself a target for a week, rather than a daily target. Some days get messed up and it becomes impossible to do quadrant 2 work on that day. As a result, you lose heart and fall back to working in your business (so much easier) rather than on it.


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