review of covey’s four quadrants
May 1, 2007
Mr. Stephen R. Covey (who does this, includes their middle or initial initial in their name? I’ll tell you who does it, people hoping to impress you do it, people hoping to make themselves sound important but not urgent, they do it. I would like to introduce a guideline—if a name isn’t important enough to spell it out, it’s NOT IMPORTANT. Except, maybe, as a differentiator. That is, if you’re afraid you’ll be confused with another person of the same name, like, let’s say your name is Saddam Hussein, I can see how you would want to add a Z to the middle or front, so you add the initial to clear up any identity crisis. Otherwise, PLEASE DROP THE INTIAL.) not only found enough time in Quad 4 to come up with the Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, but apparently had time after lunch to come up with four “Quadrants” that define our lives.
I think this falls under any of the 5 examples of different types of Quad 4 activities—Trivia, Busy Work, Time Wasters, Unproductive Activity, and Everything Else. I guess writing this review might fall in there too. It’s hard to differentiate, most of my life seems to be inside that room.
Anyway. What do you say we review Covey’s Four Quadrants?
Quad One—Important AND Urgent
These are the words Covey uses to describe Quad One—Pressing Matters, Crises/Panics, Fire-Fighting, Deadline-Driven, and Projects. Now, I know I’m supposed to put first things first, right? And if this quadrant is Important AND Urgent, I spose that means everything inside comes first. Quadrant One contains the stuff that MUST be done.
But I don’t like people telling me what must be done. Screw those people. Plus, who says things like “pressing matters?” I can see people on Gosford Park saying things like “I have more pressing matters to attend to.” Try telling that to a client sometime. Or your wife.
Rating—Quad One is a refuge for cowards and the weak minded.
Quad Two—Important but NOT Urgent
This is just stupid. Anything important is urgent. Covey claims that that we’re supposed to prioritize our lives with important stuff, not the urgent stuff. Silly semantics designed to make him sound like Confucius, and make him and his 18 kids lots and lots of money.
Covey even uses pretty alliteration to make Quad Two sound more high-minded: Prevention, Planning/Preparation, Professional Knowledge. Then he throws in “Relationship Building.” At least Quad Two has room for hooking up. But I’d call that more Urgent than important.
Rating—Quad Two is a sham, a marketing cover for hiding in your office claiming that you’re working on “VERY IMPORTANT PLANNING THAT WILL SAVE THE COMPANY SOMEDAY.” Which, I think we can all agree, is a mighty fine way to cover for your web surfing. I like it.
Quad Three—Urgent but NOT Important
Apparently this is the quad where stupid stuff happens. Stuff like “some calls, some meetings, some whatever.” Looks like some of my stuff is important and some isn’t. Oh, and Stephen R. also includes “popular activities.” What, like Porn surfing?
You know how I can get a handle on what’s important in my life? Here’s how—I can buy a book by Will Edwards called The Deepest Desire of Your Heart. And I can buy Will’s Quanta Training. Because, turns out, Covey’s training isn’t deep enough for me to really get my life under control. Turns out, I need Quanta Training, and someone to help me figure out The Deepest Desire of My Heart.
Rating—Quad Three finally helps me spend more money. Yeah me.
Quad Four Not Important and Not Urgent
This is like Disneyland. Trivia. Time Wasters. Unproductive Activities. Everything Else. They have something to help us with this too. It’s called the World Wide Web. What we need to do is use the habits and the invaluable Quanta Training to help us rise far enough in our respective organizations to remove all controls on web surfing, email, and instant messaging, so we can disappear into our offices, log on, and play World of Warcraft.
Rating—Quad Four rocks. I’m never coming out. Ever.