Stone Soup for Five: Life's Four Quadrants

Life's Four Quadrants

Right now I'm reading through Dave Ramsey's EntreLeadership book and it has so much information applicable to REAL LIFE that I think anyone could come away with ways to improve, not just leaders or entrepreneurs.

One of the time management chapters really made me stop and re-think everything.  In it he talks about how all of our time is spent in one of four quadrants.

4 Quadrants:

  •   Important and Urgent
  •   Important but Not Urgent
  •   Not Important but Urgent
  •   Not Important and Not Urgent

I'd heard this before, but he went into further detail by giving examples of each quadrant and what some of the items in each would look like.

Quadrant 1:  Important and Urgent

This quadrant is all the obvious tasks that keep our home, job, work, and life running.
-going to work
-paying bills
-grocery shopping
Things that if we didn't do them, everything would chain react badly off of this.  Obvious stuff.

Quadrant 2:  Important but NOT Urgent

This quadrant has all the building blocks of a high quality life.  When these are left undone, they can have a potentially HUGE consequence on our life.  THIS quadrant is where the impact on my life is bigger than any other area.

-eating right
-Bible reading
-meal planning
-goal setting/planning
-non-fiction reading
-taking a class
-building relationships (spouse, family, friends, neighbors)
-date night
-saving and budgeting money
-home and vehicle maintenance
-homeschool corrections/planning

If I don't take the time to work on something in this quadrant daily, eventually it will have an adverse effect on my life.  If I don't exercise and eat right, eventually I'll either have to be in a doctor's care, or not be able to do things that I need to do or enjoy.  If I don't set goals and work to achieve them, eventually I'll reach the end of my life and wonder what could have been.  If I don't work on relationships and set aside a time for date night, eventually we'll end up in counseling or worse.  ALL of these areas have a potentially life changing impact and this is where I need to spend most of my time, in quadrant 1 and 2.  These are my plumb line for life.

Quadrant 3: NOT Important but Urgent

The urgency of the item makes it seem important but in reality it is a waste of time.  Items that fit here for me personally are things like checking email every 15-30 minutes.  Leaving my inbox open also adds to this problem because the 'ping' of new mail, makes it urgent to check.  Telephone calls also fit into this area.  Just because it is someone else's convenient time to call me, doesn't mean I need to stop my Quadrant 2 tasks and immediately pick up the phone.

Another area that is NOT important but urgent that I continually fall into is when homeschooling and the boys ask me a question that they haven't taken the time to THINK about themselves. I'm working on teaching them, but in the meantime it's an area I need to be aware of.

Yet another area: Arguing or letting the boys badger me.  Re-telling what I said because they asked me the same question AGAIN because they didn't like my answer. Or letting them get mad and argue.  They need to learn No is No and that if they want to talk to me about my answer, I will be more than happy to LATER, when they have CALMED down.  Arguing seems VERY urgent, but I have never once argued my way into getting the boys to see the reason for something.

The items in this quadrant need to be delegated or avoided.  I delegate the phone calls with an answering machine. I need to be better at delegating my inbox by checking only at set times in the day (really need to work on this).  I can delegate the homeschool interruptions by teaching my boys to read, re-read thoughtfully, ask themselves questions, and try to figure it out.  I can avoid the arguments.

Quadrant 4:  NOT Important and NOT Urgent

The items here are activities that I fall into and almost never set out to spend my time here.  Plain and simple these items are wasting, not redeeming, my time.

Things here:  TV, Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter, etc...

These things are passive, unproductive moments.  Now I'm not advocating never ever doing these things again, but plan for them, don't fall into them... like I do, over and over and over and then wonder where those two (or more!) hours went.

Dave ends this section with a great quote:

Results are generated by activities. 
 If I manage my activities, 
I get the results I want.


  1. I read Dave's book too and found this section so insightful. Thanks for bringing it back to my mind. I also loved his section on goal setting; very helpful and enlightening.

  2. I even have that book but haven't read far enough to get to this chapter. Thanks for the breakdown. I love posts like these!! Also, I love that you are so visual and make your notes look interesting and appealing. My lists are never as exciting as yours.

  3. Sooo....where do we rank "Noodles"? 'Cause I feel that it is both important AND urgent when in reality it it SO is!!

    1. Well, Jill, if you look closely, Noodles definitely falls into quadrant 2 because it's relationship building, and also problem solving, and planning. Though it could be quadrant 1 too, because it is also food. So definitely important and urgent! Maybe we need to meet and discuss? Over Penne Rosa?


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