Today, I’d like to remind you of one thing: you need to do more of what you love.
Nine simple words that get lost in the jammed up email inbox, hidden in the stack of sheets and junk mail and bills in your mailbox.
Somewhere between childhood and 9-to-5, we stop having fun. Stop dreaming. Stop playing. Go into autopilot.
We talk ourselves into doing what’s practical instead of pushing ourselves. We stop believing that anything is possible in favor of a steady paycheck and a house payment.
Ever feel that way yourself?
Ever feel like you’re getting by, but the fun in your life is reserved for your two weeks of vacation each year?
Determining What’s Important
A well-known time management matrix breaks down all of the possible activities we can do in a week into one of four quadrants:
- Quadrant 1: Things in Q1 are both urgent and important. Activities in Q1 include: work, paying bills, sleep, eating. The necessities of life in America in the 21st century.
- Quadrant 2: Things in Q2 are not urgent, but they’re important. These are the things we love to do, the things that make us who we are. These are the activities that move us, inspire us, maximize our strengths, and keep us on the mission. In the rush of life, these are the activities we often stop doing.
- Quadrant 3: Things in Q3 are urgent, but they’re not important. These are activities that are pressing but don’t serve your life’s bigger purpose. That ringing phone. That unanswered email. Things in this quadrant are often more important to someone else, but you’ve made to feel their urgency.
- Quadrant 4: Things in Q4 are neither urgent nor important. Timewasters. Hours of mindless television. Hours staring at the tiny computer in your pocket, slinging birds at towers or hoping for a royal flush or scrolling through your Facebook or Instagram or Twitter feed. Did you know you can check your phone’s battery use to identify which apps are using the most juice? I dare you to look.
Keeping Track of Your Quadrants
A wise mentor once encouraged me to keep a notebook with me every day for a week. To make a list of each activity I participated in and to mark it with a quadrant from the list above. Part of the first day looked like this:
- Sleep: 10:30-5:30 – Q1
- Waking, getting dressed: 5:30-5:45 – Q1
- Writing haiku: 5:45-6:00 – Q2
- Basketball: 6:00-7:15 – Q2
- Shower/Get ready for work: 7:15-7:45 – Q1
- Words with Friends: 7:45-8:00 – Q4
- Work: 8:00-12:15 – Q1
That continued through the end of the day, every day for a week. It gave me a clear picture of where my time was going. How the best hours of my day were being used. How I was using downtime. Where I was wasting time. What I could easily cut out of my week.
It also gave me a clear picture of how many hours each week fit into each quadrant.
Give it a shot. Track your time for a single week. See how many hours you’re spending on what’s important and what’s not.
The first time I did the exercise, I was dismayed by how many hours I was wasting each week. Every day included at least a couple of Q4 hours. In a single week, I was throwing away 15-20 hours on activities that didn’t help make me a better person and didn’t make the world a better place.
20 hours is almost a whole day . . . in a single week . . . wasted.
Seeing your week on paper can be a big motivator to start doing some of the things you love.
Stop playing Angry Birds for an hour after work and start that painting.
Stop watching Friends reruns and start running. Or walking.
You’ve got 168 hours every week for the rest of your week. Use them wisely.
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Author, Speaker, and Change Agent.
Chris leads a dynamic team of passionate change agents who are dedicated to partnering with organizational executives to create cultures that inspire, engage and ignite the best in people. Our work is dedicated to harnessing the power of culture to equip leaders, build amazing teams and align operation practices to delighting the customer and drive breakthrough results.