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"Quadrant 1" Time

"Quadrant 1" Time

June 13, 20242 min read

Spending Time in Stephen Covey's "Quadrant 1" is not Always a Bad Thing

Have you read Steven Covey's The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People? Do you remember the "4 Quadrants?"

You know:

  • Quadrant 1 - Urgent and Important

  • Quadrant 2 - Not Urgent and Important

  • Quadrant 3 - Urgent and Not Important

  • Quadrant 4 - Not Urgent and Not Important

The idea is that as leaders, we should prioritize our time such that we spend more and more of it (in fact, most of it) in Quadrant 2. We should be working on stuff that's important but not urgent.

As a leader, you know that the urgent and important stuff (Quadrant 1) tends to occupy most of our time. Right? Doing otherwise is hard. We focus our leadership time (and energy) on the next priority item. And, the list of priority items is without end. I know this has been my experience.

I first read this book back in the early 90s (published in 1989) when I was early in my leadership career. I think I was a production supervisor at the time. I remember wrestling with the concept of spending more time working on the important but not urgent stuff (as well as the many other concepts he introduces in the book). "How does one do that?" I thought.

From there, I went on to have the "7 Habits" taught as a requirement to work in the production area of our new facility in Chihuahua, Mexico. I was the plant manager and had hired an operations manager who was a "certified Covey teacher." Pretty cool! It was amazing what this program yielded us in terms of the overall performance of our production staff.

Anyway, back to my point. It recently occurred to me again that, for the most part, spending more time in "Quadrant 2" is a matter of hiring people to take care of the "Quadrant 1" stuff. That's right ... many positions spend most, if not all, of their time, taking care of the "Quadrant 1" activities so that you, as a leader, can focus more time on the longer-term, bigger picture stuff.

Of course, many of these people are, by definition, not "leaders." However, I would say that in the church, one high-level leader who spends much of their time in "Quadrant 1" is the Executive Pastor. I know it sounds crazy, but at least up to a certain level of attendance, the church can't afford the support staff needed to handle the stuff that must be done today, this week, this month.

The senior pastor can spend almost all of their time in "Quadrant 2," thanks to their executive pastor. Nice!

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