Global Change Seminar "It's Your Move!"
The Four Quadrants
- Stephen Covey's Four Quadrants is a useful technique to map the way we make use of our time.
- Draw a rectangle on a sheet of paper, and divide it into 4 quadrants by drawing two lines through the middle, one vertically and one horizontally. Label the columns along the top from left to right as "Urgent" and "Not Urgent " and label the rows along the side from top to bottom as "Important" and "Not Important." (Click here to see an example of the Four Quadrants.)
- Pick a day and call it "Time Tracking Day."
- During the designated day observe all the various tasks and activities you engage in during your waking hours. Use your sheet of paper to record what you did during each half hour as the day progresses. Put a 1-word descriptor of the task or activity, and plop it in the appropriate quadrant. At the end of the day your sheet of paper should have 20 - 30 descriptors scattered among the quadrants. From this, guesstimate the amount of time you spent in each quadrant, and write that amount in the quadrant. Then calculate what percent of your time you spent in each quadrant.
- Now label each quadrant as follows: top-left "I: Burned Out; " top-right "II: Change Agent; bottom-left "III: Bored but Busy;" and bottom-right "IV: Fired."
- Punch holes in the sheet of paper and date it, and put it away.
- Plan to repeat the exercise in a month, and make a note on your calendar to do that.
What insights did this exercise offer about how you spend your time?
Is there anything you'd like to change about how you allocate your time?
If so, how might you begin to do that?