• October 13, 2013
  • Mark LaCour
  • 0


This arrived in my inbox this morning, and it is so well written that I decided to share. For more great stuff like this sign up for Anthony’s fantastic newsletter by clicking here


Good Morning Mark,

Are you getting enough of the right work done?

The late Stephen Covey had a framework for determining where and how you spend time. Activities and outcomes fell into one of the four following quadrants on his matrix:

Quadrant IV: Not Urgent, Not Important
Quadrant III: Urgent, Not Important
Quadrant II: Not Urgent, Important
Quadrant I: Urgent, Important
Quadrant IV (Not Urgent, Not Important) is simply wasting time. There is nothing wrong with spending time in Quadrant IV when it’s planned, and maybe you block time for this on weekends. Not good for the limited hours you have to produce outcomes.

Quadrant III (Urgent, Not Important) is full of things like most meetings, many reports, and a lot of the interruptions that show up and steal your time.

It’s not easy to escape Quadrant I (Urgent, Important). These show up as crises, customer problems, last-minute changes, and imposed deadlines. The things that show up here must be dealt with now.

If you’re being honest, don’t these three quadrants cover much of your normal workday?

This leaves us Quadrant II (Not Urgent, Important). This is where the real action is if you want to be effective in sales, leadership, or life. The more time you invest here, the better your results. Yet, we invest too little here. What does this look like for salespeople?

Prospecting is never urgent. It can always be put off for another day (a day that never seems to come) while you do work in the other quadrants. Most sales organization’s problems are improved simply by creating more opportunities.
Nurturing relationships is never urgent either. It’s difficult to set aside the time from the urgencies to proactively communicate with your best targets especially the one’s who have deep relationships with your competitors. And then there are your neglected clients.
Preparing for sales interactions doesn’t contain an ounce of urgency, especially when you carry with you the confidence of having made so many calls. But preparing helps you focus on creating value for your client during that interaction and making good choices about what you need to do to earn the commitments you ask for.
Sales coaching, training and development are especially critical today, as the world of sales keeps changing faster and faster. Because there is no (perceived) crisis or deadline looming, it’s pushed aside.
This list could go on for pages, couldn’t it? We could make a list here for sales managers that would include spending time with the individuals on their team, spending time in the field with key accounts and prospects, building a pipeline of candidates to hire before they need them, etc.

I added entrepreneurs to the title of this email because so many subscribe to this newsletter. Like salespeople, sales managers, and most sales organizations, they underestimate how much of Quadrant II is made up of proactively acquiring new clients and new opportunities. Like many leaders, entrepreneurs underestimate how much of their time needs to be invested in building the culture, shaping the values, beliefs, and behaviors of the organization (and later defending that culture).

The more time you spend in Quadrant II, the less time you need spend in Quadrant I. Dealing with what’s most important before it becomes urgent drives down how much of that work shows up each week. What if you invested more time in prevention?

So, what is on your list of not-urgent-but-exceedingly-important tasks and outcomes? What are the highest value activities that you need to take each week? What can you do to eliminate some of the Quadrant I urgencies that show up and steal your time?

Email me your thoughts, your ideas, and your stories. I’ll see you back here next Sunday. Until then, spend your time on what’s really important.

Anthony Iannarino