Making Time Work For Us

From the Seven Habits of Highly Effective People

A member shares:

“I don’t have enough time!  Every day slips by me.  Meetings, work, family activities, the list goes on.  When will I have time for me?”

Thought for today:

How often do we tell ourselves these kinds of messages?  Time debting can effect our solvency and our serenity without us even knowing.

Since we are starting a new year, why not take a minute to check our time management habits?  One simple technique is based on work by Stephen Covey.*

The Four Quadrants of Our Time*:

On a blank page, we draw two perpendicular lines to form four quadrants.  In each quadrant  we can estimate the time we spend on various activities. We can classify everything we do by how important it is, and how urgent it is.  We come up with four categories:

1) Important  and Urgent : These are critical day-to-day tasks – deadlines from our bosses, families, ourselves, or others.   Examples include doing highly visible tasks our boss needs done immediately, or picking up our children, or going to the ER after an injury.

Avoiding these things places our jobs, our families,  or our health at risk.

2) Urgent but not Important:  Tasks that are important to other people, but do not affect us directly.  We do a favor for a colleague, friend or family member so that they do not experience pain.

If we don’t do these things we are not responding to minor issues of a boss, colleague, friend, family member.

3) Important but not Urgent:  These are tasks with no specific deadline, where time spent now improves our work, our families, and others.  This includes going back to school; time for leisure activities that rejuvenate us; personal enrichment; time to take care of things in advance, such as going for our annual physical checkup, before our health deteriorates.  It also includes mentoring those less experienced around us into increasing maturity.

Avoiding these things eventually erodes our careers, our health, our hopes, and our serenity .  Over time we become ungrateful.  Left unattended, these tasks will drift into quadrant # 1 where they often take longer to deal with.

4) Not Urgent and not Important: An example of this category is doing an activity, workout, or hobby out of habit, even though we no longer enjoy it or benefit.  We often do these things mindlessly, and include addictive relationships and behaviors around debting.    They feel important and urgent, but often this is the disease talking.

There is no down side to avoiding quadrant 4 – in fact, there is an upside to letting go of it entirely! 

While everyone is different,  it’s a good idea to spend more time in the “Important, not Urgent”, and to cut the “Not Important, not Urgent”.


“What is important to me?”

Meditation for Today:

As we look at our lives, we can review where we spend most of our precious time.  As this year begins, we can rationally take the long view, to cultivate the arch of our lives.

Affirmations for Today:

“Today I will ask for help if I need it.  I will delegate whatever I can reasonably give away to others to do, and, in so doing, help everyone involved.  I will let go of self-neglect, over-spending, under-earning and unsecured debt.  I will let my Higher Power bring order to my time.  I will right-size my life by spending my time where my time belongs.”

Recommended Reading:

* The quadrants mentioned in this article came from these books:

First Things First

The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People: Powerful Lessons in Personal Change

See our Fourth Step Template which helps us to take a fearless moral inventory.

Some members, with the help of their Pressure Relief Group, take a moratorium from debt payments in order to get their spending under control.  See this Debt Moratorium sample letter to creditors for one example.

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