“The key is not to prioritize what’s on your schedule, but to schedule your priorities.” –Stephen R. Covey
Time management is really a misnomer, the challenge is not to manage time but to manage ourselves. Rather than focusing on things and time, focus on preserving and enhancing relationships and on accomplishing results rather than tasks.
This can be better understood with a time management matrix (aka priority matrix). Urgent matters are usually visible, insist on action, usually right in front of us, and are often easy and pleasant to do. Importance, on the other hand, has to do with results. If it is important it contributes to your mission, your values, your high priority goals.
Quadrant 1 is both urgent and important and deals with significant results that require immediate attention. As long as you focus on Quadrant 1 it keeps getting bigger and bigger until it dominates you. A huge problem comes and knocks you down and you’re wiped out, you struggle back up only to face another one that knocks you down again.
Quadrant 3 and 4, urgent but not important & not urgent or important, is where you should spend the least amount of time, and those who spend the majority of their time in basically lead irresponsible lives. The issue is that many spend a great deal of time in Quadrant 3, urgent but not important, thinking they are in Quadrant 1. They react to things that are urgent assuming they are also important, but the reality is that the urgency of these matters is often based on the priorities and expectations of others.
Quadrant 2 is the heart of effective personal management. It deals with things that are not urgent but are important, such as making that phone call to a family or friend, taking the time to determine your goals, and even exercise. We often compromise these tasks for Quadrant 1 tasks. If we spent more time in this quadrant not only will we lead more productive lives, but we will also find ourselves happier and more fulfilled. We will complete the tasks that we know will create the greatest impact on our lives, but due to the urgency, never get around to them. Quadrant 2 must be acted on, while Quadrant 1, because of its urgency, acts on us.