When one of my friends invited me to a continuing education luncheon offering credits I did not need, I debated whether to attend. Once there, I was engaged by strong networking and a guest speaker whose subject matter was very familiar to me–professional services marketing. However, his approach was to talk about the predictable objection of time availability. The challenge to the audience was to think about their schedules in a different way. When he pulled out Covey’s four quadrant model for time management (below), I was right at home as I use the tool often in mentoring on a variety of subjects.
If you are unfamiliar with the model, allow me to briefly explain. When performing tasks and crossing off “to-do” lists, too many people spend the majority of their time in quadrant #4–the items that are urgent yet not important. Quadrant #1 activities demand our attention and get done. What suffers, however, are quadrant #2 tasks, which are often the last to be done but can make a huge difference in overall execution of business goals.
Jeff Nischwitz was the guest speaker and what he said next was very revealing. He said that most billable hour professionals know that marketing (or business development) should be something we place in #2, but our behavior usually places it in #3. As a result, our best intentions are not realized because we never place the appropriate priority or value on what fills our pipeline. He went on to say that, until marketing becomes a quadrant 1 focal point, our organizations will falter and stagnate rather than grow and flourish.
Pause and think about that and evaluate your use of time. If the things that matter keep being put off in favor of what commands our attention today that may not be as important in the long run, we are not managing ourselves well. The message that is sent to a new prospect, for instance, when a proposal is turned in the last day possible, or a call or email is returned much later that desired is that the relationship is insignificant because we already have enough (too much) to do.
Challenge yourself to be better–do what is important on a daily basis as though it were urgent!