Well-being Part 4 – Plan your day!

In part 4 of our well-being series, we are going to look at one of Stephen Covey’s habits; putting first things first.

What do we mean by putting first things first?
Putting first things first is habit 3 from Stephen Covey’s book The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People.

“Putting first things first means organizing and executing around your most important priorities. It is living and being driven by the principles you value most, not by the agendas and forces surrounding you.” Dr Stephen R. Covey

Stephen Covey popularised the Time Management Matrix (The 4 Quadrants) as part of this habit, which was originally created by Dwight Eisenhower. Using the matrix, Stephen Covey looked at how our daily activities can be broken down into 4 quadrants sorted by urgency and importance.

  • Quadrant A – This is the quadrant of necessity – it is where you will find your crises or emergencies. Many people fall into the trap of getting caught in this quadrant, by spending all our time here, we become consumed with ‘firefighting’ every day instead of crisis prevention and planning. Spending a lot of time working in this quadrant can cause stress and burnout.
  • Quadrant B – This is the quadrant of quality and personal leadership – it is the most important quadrant, yet often the most neglected one. This quadrant is about having personal leadership and focusing on the important tasks that matter. Spending time here allows you to focus more on planning, preparation and prevention of crisis enabling you to spend less time in quadrant A, avoiding burnout and feeling more empowered.
  • Quadrant C – This is the quadrant of deception – some people spend a lot of time dealing with quadrant C tasks and confusing them with quadrant A. Sometimes these tasks can seem important when they are not and often the urgency of these tasks are due to other people’s priorities or needs. A good way to differentiate a quadrant C task from a quadrant A task is to ask yourself ‘Is this task relating to my goals? Does doing this make any difference to me?’. Spending a lot of time working in this quadrant can cause you to feel out of control and losing track of your goals.
  • Quadrant D – This is the quadrant of waste – it contains all your time wasters. Often people can spend a lot of time hovering between quadrant C and D tasks, and after resolving quadrant C tasks they enter ‘auto-pilot mode’ and spend all their time in quadrant D. This can be because they may be procrastinating on the things they should be doing or perhaps do not have a clear sight of what their actual goals are. Spending a lot of time in this quadrant can cause irresponsible behaviour and dependency on other people.

This week’s well-being top tip… Plan your day!
This tip fits in quite nicely with what we have covered above to help you spend more time in quadrant B.

Plan your day either the day before or the morning of and get into a habit of doing so. This way you will get more done than if you jump into your day without a plan. This doesn’t have to be a minute by minute plan, but think about how you can time block your day to achieve certain tasks.

Benefits of this activity:
You are less likely to become stressed if you make a plan for the day as you will have fewer surprises and be spending less time working in the other 3 quadrants.

Let us know if you try this tip and what benefits it had on you!

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