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Are You Prioritizing Your Schedule or Scheduling Priorities?

By Dr. Daniel Bobinski

Have you ever heard the phrase, “All things are created twice?” That phase sits at the heart of habit two from Stephen Covey’s bestselling book, “7 Habits of Highly Effective People.” Habit two is called, “Begin with the end in mind,” and it correlates to what Covey calls the first creation. It’s called first creation because begin with the end in mind is something that occurs in our heads. The second creation occurs when we create the functional finished product. 

In the recent past, I’ve used this space to talk about goal setting, because setting goals involves mentally clarifying an end result (first creation). 

A great example of this is designing a house. Before building can begin, one must make decisions about the purpose, function and layout of the house. If a family plans on entertaining a lot, a large, open floor plan will likely be necessary. If people will work from home, then workspaces must be included. If lots of children are involved, multiple bedrooms and bathrooms are a necessity. 

Other questions to consider: What kind of heating system will be used? Where will the windows be? Will walk-in closets or a butler’s pantry be needed? 

Once these decisions are made, an architect creates a blueprint of the design. All this activity correlates to “first creation.” It’s a mental process of beginning with the end in mind, because if a well-thought-out plan doesn’t exist, making changes during the actual construction phase gets very expensive! 

After the first creation (habit two) is Covey’s third habit, which is “Put first things first.” Another way to say this is prioritize, and then act according to your priorities. Habit three represents the second creation. It’s the actual doing of what was identified and planned in the first (mental) creation. 

Prioritizing

When we plan our weeks and months, Covey offers the following advice: “Don’t prioritize your schedule; schedule your priorities.” What he means is that each of us should decide what is important for our lives and make sure those action items get onto our calendar. To do that, we must first learn to differentiate between important and urgent. 

Urgent activities are things that require immediate attention. Think of it as, “things will go south really quickly if this urgent matter isn’t addressed.” 

Important activities are those that contribute to your mission, values and high-priority goals. 

Using what’s known as the Eisenhower Matrix, Covey points out that everything we do falls into one of four categories: 

  • Quadrant 1: Urgent – Important
  • Quadrant 2: Not Urgent – Important 
  • Quadrant 3: Urgent – Not Important
  • Quadrant 4: Not Urgent – Not Important

Quadrant 1 activities (urgent – important) will always be around, but these tend to be stressful and eat up much energy.  However, if we prioritize Quadrant 2 activities (not urgent – important) and put them on our calendars, not only will we get more of our own goals accomplished, but over time we’ll have less Quadrant 1 things to deal with. 

This is an important aspect about being effective, so we’ll explore this more in next month’s column! 

-Dr. Daniel Bobinski, M.Ed. is a best-selling author and a popular speaker at conferences and retreats. For more than 30 years he’s been working with teams and individuals (1:1 coaching) to help them achieve excellence. He was also teaching Emotional Intelligence since before it was a thing. Reach Daniel by email at DanielBobinski@protonmail.com or his office at 208-375-7606. 

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