Either or . . . or both

Over several years of living I have learned that many people choose to be efficient at the cost of not being effective. I also know many people who choose to be effective at the cost of not being efficient. I have always thought that there must be a way to be effective without losing efficiency. I believe there is.

Many years ago I first encountered The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People: Restoring the Character Ethic* by Stephen R. Covey. My first copy had a copyright date of 1989. My current copy, which has a new Foreword and a new Afterword by Covey, lists a copyright date of 2004.Over those many years and multiple copies of the book – I keep loaning people my copy without noting where it is or when I loaned it – I have worked my way through the book a number times, and each time have learned something new.

My most recent revelation presented itself to me shortly after I retired from full-time work. For some reason I started reading and working beginning with the Acknowledgments at the very beginning of the book. That section begins with these words: Interdependence is a higher value than independence (Covey, 3). I was amazed! I had never seen those words before, and they have made a huge difference in the way I live and manage my life and time. None of us are our best when we are alone or isolated.

Without fail, however, the most convicting part of the book for me has always been the section that includes the Covey Time Management Matrix.**

Merrill Covey Matrix Four Quadrants Urgent Important

Just this morning I did some re-reading and realized the importance of including the following words in this post. Stephen Covey writes:

As a longtime student of this fascinating field, I am personally persuaded that the essence of the best thinking in the area of time management can be captured in a single phrase: Organize and execute around priorities. That phrase represents the evolution of three generations of time management theory, and how to best do it is the focus of a wide variety of approaches and materials.

Each generation builds on the one before it – each one moves us toward greater control of our lives. The first wave generation could be characterized by notes and checklists, an effort to give some semblance of recognition and inclusiveness to the many demands placed on our time and energy.

The second generation could be characterized by calendars and appointment books. This wave reflects an attempt to look ahead, to schedule events and activities in the future.

The third generation reflects the current time management field [Current in 1984]. It adds to those preceding generations the important idea of prioritization, of clarifying values, and of comparing the relative worth of activities based on their relationship to those values . . . many people become turned off by time management programs and planners that make them feel too scheduled, too restricted, and they “throw the baby out with the bath water,” reverting to first or second generation techniques to preserve relationships, spontaneity, and quality of life.

But there is an emerging fourth generation that is different in kind. It recognizes that “time management” is really a misnomer – the challenge is not to manage time, but to manage ourselves . . . rather than focusing on things and time, fourth generation expectations focus on preserving and enhancing relationships and on accomplishing results (Covey, 149-151).*

For an unknown period of time I am going to move from an every other day post to a daily post in order that we might move more quickly through some information that I believe is required for us to continue an intelligent conversation that results in ways to be helpful to all of us. Tomorrow’s post will focus on the importance of quadrant 2 time and activities.

Grace and peace!

* – Covey, Stephen R. The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People: Powerful Lessons in Personal Change. New York: Free Press (A division of Simon & Schuster, Inc.), 1998, 2004.

** – https://sidsavara.com/personal-productivity/prioritization/nerdy-productivity-coveys-time-management-matrix-illustrated-with-xkcd-comics


About Tom

Active in substance abuse recovery.
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