Covey's Quadrant

Stephen Covey is a man well know and well respected in the corporate world.

After all, he is a best selling American author of the notable book - The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People.
Well, I haven't read this book of his. However, one thing which has been been accredited to Covey has caught my attention in the recent years. 

And it is Covey's Quadrant.

Covey's Quadrant focuses on the effective time management. And serves as a guiding force for any individual who wishes to manage his time more effectively.

Covey's Quadrant categorizes tasks based on two factors
  • Importance of the Task
  • Urgency of the Task
This results in a two-by-two matrix - as above -  with four sectors.  This forms the fundamental of his concept. 

The most important point conveyed by him is - Sector 2 is the key.

Many a times, you find yourself fire fighting at work. This translates into working in Sector 1 as per Covey's Quadrant. Sector 1 is the Quadrant of Necessity.

Although working in Sector 1 may be the need of the hour, it is in our best interests to avoid working in this sector. 

Working in this sector, many a times, means that we have overlooked problems for too long. It also means that you are in a crisis situation - and this impacts your overall mental health. (After all, no one loves a crisis - it is always better to stay away from them). It also results in severe work-life imbalance.

Next comes the Sector 3. This is the Quadrant of Deception.

Quite often you find yourself in a discussion which you could have best avoided. Or discussing a matter which may be urgent - but not to you - but to the other person. In such cases, you are in Sector 3.

Such matters - which seem urgent - but which not are actually urgent - pull away your precious time which you could have put to better use.

Sector 4 is referred to as a Quadrant of Waste.

Many a times you find yourself sucked into these activities - quite against your wishes. Well, this should be OK once in a while. But if this is frequent, then you may consider that you are wasting your time. This wouldn't give you any significant benefits. And if you wish to relax, it's better to that dedicatedly - rather than relaxing at work.

The concept recommends that it is in our best interest to avoid Sector 3 and 4.

And manage your time in Sector 1 - manage what is most important and critical for your business. But you should make every effort to ensure that none of your tasks come into Quadrant 1.

Now, if Quadrant 1 is to be managed effectively and Quadrant 3 and 4 are a strict no-no, what is it that we have to do?

The idea is to to ensure that you work mostly in Sector 2.

Sector 2 is the Quadrant of Quality and Personal Leadership.

Covey urges to focus our efforts and time on this Quadrant - to focus on work which is important and not urgent.

What is the advantage?

Well, the first fact is that we appreciate that what we are doing is important. This will make an individual take things a bit more seriously. Important work involves extensive preparation and planning. 

And the fact it is not urgent gives us a significant peace of mind. It gives us the added advantage to work without pressure, with the best planning and taking appropriate steps to avoid errors in the future - to prevent failures.

Working on tasks in Sector 2 gives you a benefit of building upon things which will help you in the long run.

If we pull our time from Sector 3 and 4, and use it for the tasks while they are in Sector 2, I think we are making a significant and substantial effort in preventing tasks from slipping into Sector 1.

These thoughts have lead me to make an effort to work in Sector 2. I have not yet been successful fully.

Finally, this interpretation of Covey's Quadrant is fully mine.

Read more about the official version here.
Covey's Quadrant Covey's Quadrant Reviewed by Vyankatesh on Monday, May 24, 2010 Rating: 5

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