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I found an article the other day about the top take away points from Steven R. Covey’s book “The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People”.

Of course there is much more to this book, but simply broken down, these were two of the BIG game changers laid out in the book.. Enjoy!

(1)Do something.  Just stop sitting around and take action.  Every minute you’re sitting around checking Facebook, you’re not taking action getting you closer to you dreams


(2)Plan what you’re taking action about.  Don’t just take action willy-nilly.  Actually have a plan. Think things through.  Do one thing in the right order before you need to do the next thing in order to get where you want to go.

That’s it.

Covey built a billion dollar empire based on those two kernels of knowledge.

But I guarantee you, two months from now, if you meet me on the street and ask, I’ll probably have to confess that I’ve forgotten those two keys to success.

So, I sat back and realized that there was one thing I remembered from reading that book 23 years ago, which really has stayed with me through my career and has been of immeasurable help to me.  It’s not even a habit.  It’s a two-by-two matrix used to help remind you to plan things out before you take action.

Here it is:

Time management matrix as described in Merrill...

Time management matrix as described in Merrill and Covey 1994 book “First Things First,” showing “quadrant two” items that are important but not urgent and so require greater attention for effective time management (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

If you remember one thing, and one thing only, about the Seven Habits of Highly Effective People book, here it is:

At the start of every week, write a two-by-two matrix on a blank sheet of paper where one side of the matrix says “urgent” and “not urgent” and the other side of the matrix says “important” and “not important.” Then, write all the things you want to do that week.

Let’s think of each quadrant:

Quadrant 1: Urgent-Important.  These are the most pressing of tasks we’ll likely get to this week.  These are the crises that erupt.  The most pressing meetings or deadlines fall into this category.  When we do fire-fighting, it’s all relating to stuff in this quadrant.

Quadrant 2: Not Urgent – Important. These are the things that matter in the long-term but will yield no tangible benefits this week or even this year.  They are things we know we need to get to but probably will push off.  It’s having a lunch with an important contact or client.  Relationship-building.  Some long-term planning.  It could be attending a conference to learn about some new area that you’ve heard a little bit about and which sounds promising but might not pan out into anything.

Quadrant 3: Urgent – Not Important.  These tasks are the biggest reason we’re not more successful in the long-term.  They clog up our time today but, when we look back at these things at the end of the week, we’ll have to admit they were a waste of time.  These are interruptions that happen, such as phone calls.  These are poorly thought-out meetings that soak up our time, but which we have to attend because we already accepted the invite.  These are other activities which we tell ourselves in the moment that we must do but — if we stopped ourselves to really think about — we’d realize they aren’t that important.

Quadrant 4: Not Urgent – Not Important.  These things we do because we feel like we’re tired and need a break.  It’s watching a mindless TV show at the end of the day.  It’s checking and rechecking Facebook and Twitter during the day, because we think we might miss something.  It mind be mindlessly eating potato chips, even though we’re not hungry.  We prioritize these things in the moment and obviously derive some pleasure from them, but they are really not urgent or important.  Yet, we’d be amazed how much time we waste in a given week on these tasks.

Forbes – The Only Thing You Need To Remember About The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People