The Quadrants, revisited, by Robin Retallick

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Let’s begin by understanding a couple of things here:

1. If you’re reading this, then you may be among those looking for a “fix” to life. We see others that seem to have it all, and we can’t seem to get ourselves organized. If only we could find the secret to success. Well – read on.

2. All of our life is spent in the NOW. Yet how much of NOW do we spend being regretful or anguished about the past, or worried about the future? Answer (for most of us) – a lot!

So let’s think a little about what to do in the NOW that’s right now – what to do first.

Stephen Covey’s Quadrants

Let’s look at Stephen Covey’s quadrants from his best seller “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People“. As Covey himself admits, this is just common sense – but it sure helps to have it laid out logically. If we classify what we have to do in terms of both Urgency (X-axis) and Importance (Y-axis), then we get four quadrants:

1. Important & Urgent
2. Important & Not Urgent
3. Urgent & Not Important
4. Not Urgent & Not Important.

If you’re feeling overwhelmed, it means you’re spending a lot off time in Quad 1. What Covey shows us is

A. If we allow ourselves to be driven unconsciously by the “tyranny” of the urgent but (mostly) unimportant (Quad 3), then we’re condemning ourselves to more of Quad 1.

B. The more time we spend in Quad 2, the less we will spend later in Quad 1.

So for the overwhelmed, it’s good information – make a chart of your To-Do’s and plan differently.

But for most of us, it’s not the best model for organizing our lives because much of the time, we’re quite capable of putting off important stuff – be it urgent or non-urgent. In other words, we procrastinate.

Ken Blanchard’s Quadrants

Ken Blanchard (“The One Minute Manager”) in his latest (“The On-Time, On-Target Manager”) lays out his quadrants a little differently:

1. Have to Do, Want to Do
2. Have to Do, Don’t Want to Do
3. Don’t Have to Do, Want to Do
4. Don’t Have to Do, Don’t Want to Do.

Most of us don’t have a problem with Quads 1 and 4. If it’s Quad 1 we just go ahead and do it. If it’s Quad 4, we just never do it – no big deal. It’s Quads 2 and 3 where the issues arise because many of us gravitate to Quad 3 at the expense of Quad 2, meaning things that do have to be done don’t get done.

The Blanchard advice is to do them in the order Quad 2, Quad 1, and spend little or no time on Quad 3 items. To use this model, once again chart your To-Do’s and plan accordingly. You will be better “organized”.

Working With Quadrants – A Suggestion

My problem with both of these is that, in my experience, none of us will continue to do things we don’t want to do unless we’re forced to do them. We may be forced by a boss. But if the boss is us, then unless we can get pleasure from the very knowledge that we’re now “organized” (and some can), we’re still not going to stick with it.

If that sounds like you, then you’re normal and sane and you’re not weak and you’re not poorly disciplined – so get off that kick. And here’s the good news – you’re not condemned to have less in life than those mythical “other” “better organized” people out there!

If you’ve considered the Blanchard quadrants, think for a minute about what determines why you would ever “want to” do something. Answer – because it’s fun, because it brings you joy, lets you feel good. I’m going to suggest we substitute the words “inspired to” rather than “want to” because it implies what’s actually happening here – there’s a collaboration going on between you and your inner self – your inner being – that’s causing this feeling. And nothing nada, zilch, zip ? is more important than feeling good.

Now let’s look at the “have to” bit. I’m suggesting here you think about these as the “must” do’s and the “should” do’s. The rest are “could” do’s.

1. Should/Must Do, Inspired To Do
2. Should/Must Do, Not Inspired To Do
3. Could Do, Inspired To Do
4. Could Do, Not Inspired To Do

Now segment your To-Do items and look at how many lie in each box. Starting from the bottom, Quad 4 is sort of a catch-all bucket for all sorts of things. There’s not much energy involved so you can safely ignore these items.

Next let’s look at what’s in Quad 2. If you’re typical, you’ll have lots of entries here. You may find that this is where you hang out a lot.

Quads 1 & 3 are where you need to be. In other words, in order to be truly “organized”, the task is to get the stuff in Quad 2 into 1, 3 or 4. You can work in Covey mode, or you can work in Blanchard mode. But if you truly want to break out of the rut, your “work” is to change the way you think and get inspired.

First things first

True time management and personal development means that you need to spend some time each day in quiet mode – either meditating or visualizing what you want. If there’s no time in your busy day to do that – make time. This is your truly important task. And as you do, ideas will come.

You don’t have to take quantum leaps. You don’t have to put yourself into a tailspin by quitting your job, or your relationship. If you spend quiet time, ideas will come to you and opportunities to take advantage of those ideas will come to you. In an easy and relaxed manner, your life will become what you’re visualizing.

A few quotes

“Follow your bliss, and doors will open for you that you never knew existed” – Joseph Campbell

“What we ponder and what we think about sets the course of our life. Any day we wish; we can discipline ourselves to change it all. Any day we wish, we can open the book that will open our mind to new knowledge. Any day we wish, we can start a new activity. Any day we wish, we can start the process of life change. We can do it immediately, or next week, or next month, or next year.” – Jim Rohn

“Whatever your mind can conceive and can believe, it can achieve.” – Napoleon Hill

“Stop thinking trouble if you want to attract its opposite; stop thinking poverty if you wish to attract plenty. Refuse to have anything to do with the things you fear, the things you do not want.” – Orison Swett Marden

The breeze at dawn has secrets to tell you. Don’t go back to sleep. You must ask for what you really want. Don’t go back to sleep. People are going back and forth across the doorsill where the two worlds touch. The door is round and open. Don’t go back to sleep. – Rumi – a Sufi poet

Robin Retallick is a business owner and CEO who, like many of us, is on a journey of discovery seeking some of life’s answers and learning how to achieve abundance. From early involvement with Christianity, he’s moved to an understanding of the Law Of Attraction with all that that implies. As modern physics merges more into the world of the “supernatural”, he sees the potential reconciliation of the spiritual with the scientific. He shares his insights, and processes and resources that work.

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