Tag Archives: timemanagement

Stephen Covey’s Legacy – One Thing

Last month renowned productivity guru (and all-around swell human being) Stephen Covey passed away. At the time I really thought I should write something, but I wasn’t sure what to say until now.

Professor Stephen R. Covey

Professor Stephen R. Covey (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Covey was an expert at showing others how to bring order out of chaos. He taught us that doing more things was no substitute for doing the right things.

If you’ve been following slightly insightful you’ll know that I’m a huge Covey devotee. Two of the most popular posts I’ve written are based on his teachings.

Before Covey we were slaves to our calendars, agendas, and to-do lists. His works taught us to identify who we are, what we care about, and how to use that knowledge to prioritize what we do.

It can all be summed up in the following quote.

“What one thing could you do in your personal and professional life that, if you did on a regular basis, would make a tremendous positive difference in your life?

So, what’s your one thing? What would make the biggest impact on your life if you were to start doing it regularly today?

Now, go out and do it.

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Covey’s Time Management Matrix Explained

At least once a week I explain Stephen Covey’s time management philosophy to someone. I’ve even written about elements of it here on slightly insightful.

Do it mañana

I keep coming back to Covey because his focus on roles and values resonates with me and I find it the best way of prioritizing my tasks.

Not everyone groks a mindmap, so when I explain Covey’s system to others I invariably end up drawing the four quadrants of the Time Management Matrix.

Time Management Matrix

Let me give you a brief overview of the four quadrants matrix. Look at the things you do. Are they important? If so, they belong in the top half of the matrix. If they’re not they go in the lower half. Are they urgent? If so they belong in the left half of the matrix. If not, they belong in the right hand side of the matrix.

Urgent and Important

Quadrant 1

If I were a betting man, I’d wager that the majority of us spend most (if not all) of our time here. We’re busy putting out fires and dealing with crises.

It’s only natural that some of your actions will fall into Quadrant 1. Unless you love ulcers though, you really don’t want to spend most of your time here.

Non-urgent and Important 2

Quadrant 2

If you don’t give Quadrant 2 activities precedence many of them will turn into Quadrant 1 activities. But, this is also where many of the activities that enhance the quality of your life lie—time with family, exercise, study, etc.

This is the magic quadrant. If possible, you want the majority of your actions to occur here. This is the where good managers and employees spend their time.

Urgent and Unimportant

Quadrant 3

You don’t want to be seen doing Quadrant 3 activities. They are ineffecient time-wasters.

I hate to break it to you, but if you’re in Quadrant 3 you’re really bad at prioritizing. Essentially, you’re hurrying around doing things which don’t add any value.

Non-urgent and Unimportant

Quadrant 4

Do you read and (even worse) forward all those joke emails your grandparents send you? Do you waste time on Facebook (or Twitter or YouTube or whatever) when you should be working? Quadrant 4 is the goof off domain.

One consequence of having spending too much time in Quadrant 1 is that in order to de-stress you’ll probably also be spending a fair amount of time in Quadrant 4 as well.

I Already Did That

For more on Covey’s Time Management Matrix and the Four Quadrants read First Thing’s First. You can also download a copy of the matrix and quadrants here.

Which quadrant do you spend most of your time in? What would it take to get to where you want to be? Sound off in the comments below.

All images are from my flickr, unless otherwise noted.

Simple Motivational Wallpaper for 2012

Last year I created three simple motivational wallpapers for myself and decided to share them with you. As it proved to be one of my more popular post last year I wanted to do it again.

The three images below each occupy one of my Mac OS X Spaces. They inspire me to continue learning—something new every day, to act on what I learn so that knowledge becomes wisdom, and then to share that wisdom with you so that we all can benefit.

Learn

Learn - CCComicrazy - 1920
Right click link and select “save link as…” to download.

Act

Act - CCComicrazy - 1920
Right click link and select “save link as…” to download.

Share

Share - CCComicrazy - 1920
Right click link and select “save link as…” to download.

All images are were made with widescreen displays (resolution of 1920 x 1200 pixles) in mind and were designed in Pixelmator using the Comicrazy front.

You can download the full set, including alternative resolutions and/or in good ol’ Helvetica from my Learn, Act, Share flickr set.

Some of you might recognize these quotes from their original source. Regardless of whether you do or not, these wallpapers can help motivate you to make the most out of 2012.

Did you find these wallpapers helpful? What image(s) are you using to motivate you in 2012? Sound off in the comments below.

All images are from my flickr, unless otherwise noted.

Advice for the New Year from Thomas Jefferson

Portrait of Thomas Jefferson by Rembrandt Peal...

Image via Wikipedia

In September of 1785 Thomas Jefferson wrote a letter to his nephew, Peter Carr. Jefferson imparted sage guidance to the young Carr in the correspondence which can be of benefit to any who read it.

Below are seven of my favorite axioms from the Founding Father’s letter.

  • “Encourage all your virtuous dispositions, and exercise them whenever an opportunity arises; being assured that they will gain strength by exercise, as a limb of the body does, and that exercise will make them habitual.”

  • “There is no habit you will value so much as that of walking without fatigue.”

  • “Rise at a fixed and an early hour, and go to bed at a fixed and early hour also…Sitting up late at night is injurious to the health, and not useful to the mind.”

  • “A strong body makes the mind strong.”

  • “Husband well your time, cherish your instructions, strive to make every body your friend…”

  • “He who permits himself to tell a lie once, finds it much easier to do it a second and third time”

  • “If you ever find yourself environed with difficulties and perplexing circumstances, out of which you are at a loss how to extricate yourself, do what is right, and be assured that that will extricate you the best out of the worst situations.”

Jefferson’s counsel to his kinsman rings as true today as it did over two hundred years ago. I find them especially applicable now at the beginning of a new year when so many of us take the time to analyze our lives and strive for improvement.

Which of Jefferson’s tips would benefit you the most? Sound off in the comments below.

Managing Time Effectively Mindmap

My 7 Habits Weekly Planner continues to be one of the most popular posts on slightly insightful, despite have been posted over a year ago.

As a follow up, I wanted to do something relating to Covey’s time management matrix as found in First Thing’s First.

In my research I stumbled across an excellent mindmap of the subject by Chance Brown. Conceptually, it’s spot on, but I wanted a cleaner version for myself.

Here’s what I came up with.

Managing Your Time Effectively (MindMap)
Click on image to view and/or download the full size version.

The quadrant is a fantastic tool for evaluating your daily activities and determining whether you’re making the best use of your time.

If you want to know more, ask Santa to slip a copy of First Thing’s First into your stocking

… but only if you’ve been nice this year.

In closing, I leave you with a question from Dr. Covey, himself.

“What one thing could you do in your personal and professional life that, if you did on a regular basis, would make a tremendous positive difference in your life?”

I’d love to read your answer’s in the comments below.

It’s All About the Benjamin

Benjamin Franklin.

Image via Wikipedia

305 years ago today American Founding Father, inventor, business man, publisher, self-improvement guru, and all-around great guy Benjamin Franklin was born. It wasn’t until recently that I learned to appreciate his genius.

If you haven’t already read his Autobiography, I highly recommend it. In his own words, Franklin provides unique insights into the times in which he lived. It also contains a wealth of practical knowledge that is just as applicable today as when Franklin originally wrote it.

One of my favorite sections of the Autobiography is found in the appendices under the title The Way to Wealth.. You can read it in its entirety here.

The full text is available for free from a variety of online sources. However, I recommend checking out the free LibroVox repository which links not only the ebook, but the audiobook in a variety of audio formats ready for your iPod.

Autobiography of Ben
Image courtesy of Archive.org

I’m sure many of us have resolved to read more often in 2011. In a few short weeks most of us, however, will quit because “we just don’t have the time”. Audiobooks enable you to read in the car, the train, at the gym, while doing chores, etc. Make time to read this classic today by downloading it now.

For more on Benjamin Franklin check out these excellent articles from one of my favorite blogs, The Art of Manliness, below:

Do you feel as strongly about Benjamin Franklin as I do? Is he over or underrated? Sound off in the comments below.

Simple Motivational Wallpapers for 2011

If you’re searching for a new desktop wallpaper to help motivate you in 2011 then look no further. Whether your goal is to master the 7 Habits, Get Things Done, or just to manage your time a little better, these three images should help to inspire and motivate you in your New Year’s resolutions.

All three images currently occupy a separate one of my Mac OS X Spaces (via Hyperspaces). They’re a great reminder that there is no substitute for action, quality, and/or timeliness.

Do It

Do It
Right click link and select “save link as…” to download.
Photo via my flickr

Do It Right

Do It Right
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Photo via my flickr

Do It Right Now

Do It Right Now
Right click link and select “save link as…” to download.
Photo via my flickr

All images are suitable for widescreen displays (resolution of 1920 x 1200 pixles) and were designed in Pixelmator—a super-slick image editor for Mac OS X.

It’s 2011. If you still don’t know how to change your desktop wallpaper you’ve got issues. But, in the interest of being charitable, here are instructions for Mac OS X, Ubuntu, and Windows (help links via WordPress Blog).

Some of you might recognize these quotes from their original source. This sage advice has always been helpful to me.

Did you find these wallpapers helpful? What image(s) are you using to motivate you in 2011? Sound off in the comments below.