I’ve been a fan of Stephen Covey’s 7 Habits of Highly Effective People ever since a read it a zillion years ago. I love the way Covey takes relatively complicated principles and makes them approachable for the average person.

One of my favorite parts of the book is where he talks about four quadrants activities fall into. And, that’s what today’s video is about…understanding why being proactive is the only way to create value.


I’ve been a fan of Stephen Covey’s Seven Habits of Highly Effective People ever since I read it. Oh, it feels like about a zillion years ago, but it was probably more like 35 or 40 years ago. I love the way Covey takes relatively complicated principles and makes them approachable for the average person.

Now, one of my favorite parts of the book is when he talks about four quadrants that activities fall into, and that’s what today’s video’s about. It’s about understanding why being proactive is the only way to really create value in your business, so let’s jump in.

First, let’s go over the four quadrants about how you can spend your time.

  1. Quadrant one is urgent and important. That’s where something has to be done today and it’s really important to get done today. I call that reactive because when you’re there, you’re always behind the eight ball when you get there.
  2. Number two is important, but not urgent. Now, this is proactive, this means something’s important, but if you don’t do it today, it’s not gonna be a big deal. You can do it tomorrow or the next day or the next day. Now, the problem that when you get into important, but not urgent is that the next day and the next day and the next day go by because it’s not all that urgent, and then all of a sudden it becomes urgent and important, and now you’re behind the eight ball again.
  3. Number three is not urgent, but important. Now, it may not be important for you, but it might be important for you, but it’s usually something else that you’ve already delegated and you’re working on somebody else’s agenda. You should never, never let people delegate up to you. When you delegate a job and people ask for your help, certainly give them your help, but do it by asking questions.
  4. And then number four is not urgent or important, and those are time wasters. That’s where you’re just tired or you’re burnt out and you decide to spend some time on Facebook or just cruise the web or whatever you’re doing that’s really not urgent and is certainly not important.

And today we’re really gonna talk just about the first two things which is urgent and important, and important but not urgent.

  1. So when something is urgent and important, as I’ve already said, is always reactive.
    • This is where you’re losing money because when you’re working behind the eight ball and you’re trying to catch up, you’re just gonna throw money at it to fix the problem.
    • The other thing is you get too many resources and too much stress. I don’t know about you, but I hate working where something has to be done today at this minute or I’m gonna have a whole bunch of problems in my life. It just makes me nervous, I’m not very happy about it, and frankly, when I have to do it, I get cranky, and my guess is you do too.
    • Now, I’ve already said this again, you’re already behind the eight ball, you’re already scared, you’re already there.
    • And somebody is probably really, really unhappy with you, and your job is you’re gonna drop everything you’re doing that’s important and jump right on this, and frankly it’s never a whole lot of fun to do that, but we all have to do it from time to time.
    • Now, you’re always gonna have some activities that fall into this quadrant. Your goal is to keep those activities to as small a piece as you possibly can. When you do this, you’re really making your time more valuable because now you’re allowed to work on really high quality and high value activities that aren’t urgent and important.
  2. So let’s go on and take a look at what is important, but not urgent (best place to be).
    • Now again, this is the proactive quadrant.
    • This is where you’re doing important things on your schedule. This is where you’re doing the work that is probably worth about $5,000 an hour or more. It’s certainly worth at least $500 an hour because again, you’re not doing things that are behind the eight ball, you’re doing it on your schedule, you’re doing it calmly, you have time to think about it, which means you have time to do it right.
    • Now you’re setting the agenda, and this only can happen when you’re working on important things that are not urgent or frankly anything that’s not urgent. When it’s not urgent, you’re setting the agenda. When it’s urgent, somebody else is setting the agenda.
    • Now, I’m gonna bet that you want to be setting your own agenda and not having other people set the agenda for you, and you’re fixing problems before they become a money suck. So if something’s important, but not urgent, there are often problems or opportunities that you have in your business, and because you’re doing it on a timely basis and you’re doing it in a calm manner, you’re not throwing money at the problem to fix it, you’re fixing the problem before it becomes a big one.

So I hope that you want to spend the vast majority of your time in the important, but not urgent quadrant. The more time you spend there, the more successful your company can become. You’ll be working on projects that move the ball forward, and you’ll be doing it on your schedule.

Now, I call this becoming operationally irrelevant because it allows you to be doing the important things where you don’t have to jump in, get your hands dirty, and fix the problem. Don’t be a firefighter, become operationally irrelevant, work on important, but not urgent things.

So why don’t you scroll down and let me know what you think about staying in the proactive quadrant and what challenges you might have doing that, and while you’re at it, DOWNLOAD our Free Infographic on The Success Path For Creating Excess Cash In Your Business. If you go through the whole success path and you’re doing this in a important, but not urgent manner, you’re gonna find you get there a lot faster than if you’re rushing through and trying to do everything at once.

So this is Josh Patrick, you’re at the Sustainable Business. Thanks a lot for stopping by. I hope to see you back here really soon.

Topics: Video, Sustainable Business, cracking the cash flow code, cash flow, delegation, Success Path, excess cash, time wasters, proactive, not important, important, not urgent, urgent, reactive

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