2020 Focus on What's Important...Not What's Urgent

Posted by: Tom Sheehan, Manager, Advice & Resolution at CAI on Thursday, January 16, 2020

Most everything we do can be put into one of four quadrants on a grid. In 2020, keep this model in mind as you plan (and work) your day. Doing so will help you keep your attention on the most important things in your life.


  • Quadrant 1 is the quadrant of crisis. You've put something off until the last minute, and now it's time to put out the fires. Problems that get into Quadrant 1 cost more to solve, cause more stress, and crowd out all the things you'd rather be doing. You MUST take care of these things, and now.
  • Quadrant 2 is the quadrant of growth. It's all those things you know you need to do but never get around to doing. This is where your most valuable time is spent, for example, planning, practice, and professional learning. Sleep, exercise, personal growth, and recreation are valuable Quadrant 2 activities.
  • Quadrant 3 is the quadrant of interruptions. When you're in Quadrant 3, someone or something else is pulling you there. A co-worker stops by your office, the phone rings, or email throws up a notification of an incoming message. Even if you can get right back to what you were working on, it takes much longer for your brain to get back its stride. If you're in Quadrant 3 by choice, ask yourself why you're working on something that isn't important.
  • Quadrant 4 is the quadrant of waste. The hard part can be to honestly separate rest and relaxation (Quadrant 2) from procrastination and goofing off. Try to get your time here down to zero.

HR professionals are frequently derailed by "falsely urgent" interruptions brought about by co-workers (or bosses) who failed to act with urgency on their part but expect you to act with urgency for them. "A lack of planning on your part does not constitute an emergency on my part." This is what it's talking about — urgency vs. importance.

Key Takeaways:

  1. Work through any Quadrant 1 crises you have, then spend more time in Quadrant 2. As you spend more time in Quadrant 2, you'll find you need to spend less time in Quadrant 1.
  2. Identify and schedule your learning and professional growth activities for the year. Lock in those commitments and hold them as sacred. HR professionals need to stay current in order to maintain their credibility and minimize risk. Get started today and check out CEA's 2020 HR Events Calendar Make 2020 the year you attain your HRCI accreditation: Review HR Accreditation Options Here!
  3. Try not to spend much time in Quadrants 3 & 4. Urgent or not, you've already decided it isn't important. Quadrant 3 will just burn you out, and Quadrant 4 isn't as restful as you think.

Reprinted with permission: https://www.capital.org/s/content/a0Y1K00000higDiUAI/focus-on-what-is-important-not-what-is-urgent

Source: https://colterreed.com/focus-on-whats-important/ 

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