If Quadrant II activities are clearly the heart of effective personal management -- the "first things" we need to put first -- then how do we organize and execute around those things
The first generation of time management does not even recognize the concept of priority. It gives
us notes and "to do" lists that we can cross off, and we feel a temporary sense of accomplishment every time we check something off, but no priority is attached to items on the list. In addition, there is no THE SEVEN HABITS OF HIGHLY EFFECTIVE PEOPLE Brought to you by FlyHeart correlation between what's on the list and our ultimate values and purposes in life. We simply
respond to whatever penetrates our awareness and apparently needs to be done.
Many people manage from this first-generation paradigm. It's the course of least resistance.
There's no pain or strain; it's fun to "go with the flow." Externally imposed disciplines and schedules give people the feeling that they aren't responsible for results.
But first-generation managers, by definition, are not effective people. They produce very little, and
their life-style does nothing to build their Production Capability. Buffeted by outside forces, they are often seen as undependable and irresponsible, and they have very little sense of control and self-esteem.
Second-generation managers assume a little more control. They plan and schedule in advance and
generally are seen as more responsible because they "show up" when they're supposed to.
But again, the activities they schedule have no priority or recognized correlation to deeper values
and goals. They have few significant achievements and tend to be schedule-oriented.
Third-generation managers take a significant step forward. They clarify their values and set goals.
They plan each day and prioritize their activities.
As I have said, this is where most of the time-management field is today. But this third generation
has some critical limitations. First, it limits vision -- daily planning often misses important things that can only be seen from a larger perspective. The very language "daily planning" focuses on the urgent
-- the "now." While third generation prioritization provides order to activity, it doesn't question the essential importance of the activity in the first place -- it doesn't place the activity in the context of principles, personal mission, roles, and goals. The third-generation value-driven daily planning
approach basically prioritizes the Quadrant I and III problems and crises of the day.
In addition, the third generation makes no provision for managing roles in a balanced way. It lacks
realism, creating the tendency to over-schedule the day, resulting in frustration and the desire to
occasionally throw away the plan and escape to Quadrant IV. And its efficiency, time-management
focus tends to strain relationships rather than build them.
While each of the three generations has recognized the value of some kind of management tool,
none has produced a tool that empowers a person to live a principle-centered, Quadrant II life-style.
The first-generation note pads and "to do" lists give us no more than a place to capture those things that penetrate our awareness so we won't forget them. The second-generation appointment books and
calendars merely provide a place to record our future commitments so that we can be where we have
agreed to be at the appropriate time.
Even the third generation, with its vast array of planners and materials, focuses primarily on helping
people prioritize and plan their Quadrant I and III activities. Though many trainers and consultants
recognize the value of Quadrant II activities, the actual planning tools of the third generation do not
facilitate organizing and executing around them.
As each generation builds on those that have preceded it, the strengths and some of the tools of each
of the first three generations provide elemental material for the fourth. But there is an added need for a new dimension, for the paradigm and the implementation that will empower us to move into
Quadrant II, to become principle-centered and to manage ourselves to do what is truly most important.