Get proactive by developing a Quadrant Two focus

10 Nov 2015

Get Proactive by developing a ‘Quadrant 2 Focus’

 Part 2 of blog

In the last blog we discussed the two key dimensions of being more effective at work – understanding the difference between what is important and what is urgent.

The truth is most of us never analyse how we approach work and plan the day. We simply go with the flow. As a result we are often ignorant of where the problem lies. Then we do more of the same and expect change. And we are unhappy and frustrated when we don’t see change.

But change begins with observing ourselves. Ask yourself these questions:

1. Do I sort my tasks at the start of the day?

2. Do I put my best energy at the right time in the most valuable tasks?

3. Do I leave less important tasks for the end of the day or do they interrupt my work through the course of the day?

4. How much of what I did today will help me achieve my goals and how much of it was just a reaction to the events of the day?

5. Am I trying to do too much under the guise of being productive?

6. Am I avoiding difficult tasks?

In the previous blog, I recommended that you create your to-do list based on Stephen Covey’s Time Management Matrix. By now you may have a better idea of what kind of work you spend most of your time on and the changes you need to make as a result.

Effective people are not problem minded. They are opportunity minded. They spend more time creating value rather than fighting fires. That is what leads to growth. So their time management matrix will have few things in the ‘Urgent’ zone and a lot of things in the ‘Important’ zone which is the 2nd quadrant.

Stephen Covey Time Management Matrix
Chapter Two Blog – Stephen Covey Time Management Matrix


How to live life in the second quadrant?

The question to ask yourself is this: What is the one thing that, if done on a regular basis, will make a tremendous change in my life?

Quadrant 2 activities and initiatives have that kind of impact. Our effectiveness takes quantum leaps when we do them.

Developing a Quadrant 2 perspective

The crux of a Quadrant 2 life style is knowing one’s priorities. When you are clear about your values and about the activities that are linked to those values, you will assign the necessary weights to them and tackle them first. They will always be the ‘go to’ activities, the ones that define your vision and give purpose to your work. The way to do this is to take a break from your work and revisit your goals. What do you want to achieve and by when? What will make you feel fulfilled? Translate these goals into clear targets. Put them in quadrant 2 and work on them every day relentlessly.

How to stay in Quadrant 2 and not lose focus

It’s simple. For starters, identify a quadrant 2 activity that you have been putting off for a very long time. For e.g., signing up for a course that will give you management skills in addition to your technical skills. This is essential if you wish to one day become the CTO of the company.

Now ask yourself what has been stopping you?

1. Is it the goal itself? Perhaps you are not excited about the goal. Perhaps it is not your goal and someone else’s goal. In that revisit the goal post.

2. You may conclude the goal is right but you are not finding the time to chase it. In that case maybe you have too many urgent things causing you to lose focus. Revisit that quadrant.

Assuming you are sure about your goal, make it cut and dried:

1. Will be CTO in 10 years

2. So what needs to be done now? A diploma.

3. OK in how much time can the diploma be obtained?

4. What changes are to be made to get the diploma?

5. Schedule a meeting with your supervisor. Share your goal and the steps you are taking. Ask for his cooperation.

6. Create a list of things you need in addition to the diploma – company knowledge, networking, etc.

7. Create strong action plans to make each part work.

8. Begin executing plan

9. Measure progress.

10. If you are on track, reward yourself. Keep going.

11. If you are not on track, get a coach.

 The more we have in quadrant 2, the more integrated and fulfilled we will be and the less ‘noise’ we will experience in our minds. All it takes is clarity on our values and determination on our goals.

About the Author:

Sandhya Reddy is a leadership & transformation coach based in Bangalore, India. She is the Founder and Principal Coach at Chapter Two Coaching, a coaching consultancy that enables everyone from CEOs to work-from-home parents to achieve their goals by replacing self-imposed limitations with enabling stories.

Many of us in our thirties experience a disquieting realization: what brought us to middle-management may not take us to senior-management. This is true. To chart a new career path, one needs to think and do things differently. This is where Sandhya can help. She is a coach. Life coaching, executive coaching, business coaching, personality development, leadership coaching… they are all part of her forte. Her Executive coaching programs helps tomorrow’s leaders set new goals, make new plans to achieve those goals, get that elusive promotion through a blend of knowledge, action and image-building, enhance influence among the leadership team, be more productive, get more out of one’s team, and be known in the company as an indispensable performer and future leader.

Follow Sandhya Reddy on Twitter @sandhyareddy

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