We all agree that we know, we have to start investing for our retirement, for our children’s higher study etc etc. We even know how to calculate how much money will be required for these financial goals, also we are able to make a proper plan, where to invest and how much. Still after every month end we have lots of reason for ourselves to justify why we could not execute the plan and why we have to postpone for tomorrow. And we all know tomorrow never comes. So why does it always happen to us? Why do we postpone? Why do we find excuses? Why do we try to find evidence to justify our decision?
In “The Seven Habits Of Highly Effective People” by Mr. Stephen R. Covey, has the answer for our above behavior. In this book, Mr. Stephen has discussed the two factors which defined an activity as – urgent and important. Urgent means it requires immediate action. Important on the other hand is something which contributes to your mission, your values, your higher priority goals. We react to urgent matter, important matters that are not urgent require more initiative, more proactively. As per Mr. Stephen we spend our time based on below four quadrants:
Important & Urgent
Important but Not Urgent
Urgent but Not Important
Not Urgent & Not Important
Quadrant 4: Not urgent and not important tasks are:
- Making calls for time pass
- Attending office gossip
- Spending time on whatsapp or facebook
- Going through unnecessary emails
- Shopping online for items which are not really required
- Watching IPL
Quadrant 3: Urgent but not important tasks are:
- Planning for a last minute meeting which does not matter
- Attending a phone call when you are in important meeting
- Buying a new phone even if existing phone is working perfectly fine
Quadrant 1: Both important and urgent
- Last minute buying ULIPs, insurance plan for tax saving.
- Last minute planning for an important meeting
- Last minute making payments of electricity bill, credit card bill etc.
Quadrant 2: Important but not urgent
- Making a detail plan for your retirement and executing the same
- Making a detail plan for your child’s education, marriage and executing the same
- Skill development related to your work which will help you to grow
- Learning the new skill which have been thinking from long time
- Learning how to write, speak better
- Taking care of your health
The activities in Quadrant 1 & 3 are “Crises” or “Problems” and we all have these activities in our lives. But it consumes most of the time for many people. These people spend too much time on these activities and it keeps bigger and bigger until it dominates. There are people who spend good amount of time in Quadrant 3 (urgent but not important) thinking that they are in Quadrant 1 (both urgent and important). But the reality is that the urgency of these matters is often based on the priorities and expectations of others. You know why people spend time on Quadrant 3 & 4; it is because these activities are easy to do and enjoyable in meaningless way.
You see just because we are making decision and acting on those activities which are Not Important on daily basis, we are ignoring or postponing all our Important Activities. That’s why we always find excuses why we have still too much time to plan for retirement, why we think from tomorrow we will start investing for our child’s education.
So what is the solution?
- We have to break our tasks into above mentioned Quadrants.
- This will clearly help us not to give priority to those tasks which are “not urgent and not important”.
- We have to deal with those tasks which are “urgent and important” long before they reach this crisis stage.
- We have to learn to say NO for those tasks which are “urgent and not important”. Because these tasks are important for others (like your boss).
We have to make sure we spend at least 2 hours daily on “Important and not urgent” tasks initially and slowly increase the time. Initially you will find it difficult to these tasks as these are not so easy and needs concentration. Slowly you will notice the change and the benefits, you will start getting the extra energy and confidence which will help you to achieve all your important goals.
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