Getting Your Life On Track Part 1

Get your life on track

What Do You Want To Be True?

I had a blinding flash of the obvious the other day: I realized why I’d been falling behind on my commitments and feeling more stressed out the last few weeks.

I’d fallen for the lure of the urgent important and been chasing shiny trinkets of faux productivity. And it wasn’t because I didn’t have enough time, although that would have been a convenient – and irresponsible – excuse. It was because instead of leading my schedule, I’d let myself by led by it.

Ever feel like you’re caught up in doing, but not sure if you’re doing what you should be doing? It’s scary to think we could be throwing all our time and energy into climbing a ladder, only to find at the top it’s been leaning on the wrong wall.

Luckily for me, I have a method I’ve used throughout the years to help me get back on track – fast.

The Urgent Isn’t Always Important

The 4 Quadrants

Stephen Covey, in his must-read book First Things First, outlined these 4 Quadrants. If you find your life spiraling out of control, you need to know the 4 Quadrants and why they’re important.

Quadrant 1
are the things in your life that are both urgent and important. Matters like deadline-driven projects and crises. We all have Q1 activities in our lives, but if you’re feeling burnt out, chances are you live here.

Quadrant 2 is full of things that are not urgent but important which could range from spending quality time with your family to regular exercise. They won’t enact urgency on you like a deadline but they’re the foundations a quality life is built on.

The more time you spend in Q2, planning, building up your strength, preparing, the less time you spend and the more effective you become in Q1.

Quadrant 3 is where the urgent but not important matters lie. Some phone calls, meetings, last minute appointments that seem urgent but are actually not important fall into Q3.

Quadrant 4 are where the frivolous not urgent and not important stuff is. Stoning out in front of the TV, not learning and doing anything is a Q4 activity.

It’s obvious we should be spending most of our time in Q1 & 2. Spending too much time in Q3 and Q4 robs you of your time, gives you stress and saps your ability to perform in real Q1 and Q3 activities.

Which quadrant do you think you’re spending most of your time right now?

Think about the answer in the meantime. In my next post I’ll reveal how to make the 4 Quadrants an even more useful tool for leading your life.

Getting Your Life On Track Series

Getting Your Life On Track Part 1
Getting Your Life On Track Part 2
Getting Your Life On Track Part 3
Getting Your Life On Track Part 4

Recommended Reading

First Things First: To Live, to Love, to Learn, to Leave a Legacy
First Things First : To Live, to Love, to Learn, to Leave a Legacy

Getting Things Done : The Art of Stress-Free Productivity
Getting Things Done : The Art of Stress-Free Productivity

6 Responses to “I Was Stressed Every Time I Sat In Front of My Computer Until…”

  1. qeek
    August 26 2007 at 12:20 pm #

    Funny. A few months ago, I’ve used the very same Windows theme with ObjectDock at the bottom.

    Anyway I think your desktop could be simplified even more.

    – Is ObjectDock really necessary? You can use the Start menu.
    – Use online calendar (like GCal) instead of Rainlendar, and open it only when needed
    – Hide all tray icons
    – Don’t display the date next to the clock :)

  2. Alvin Soon
    August 26 2007 at 2:32 pm #

    Hi qeek,

    I love the dock because it’s a much faster way for me to get to the programs I want. After this post I set it to auto-hide though, which works much better (by the way it’s the resource-light Y’z Dock not ObjectDock).

    I like having my calender on the desktop because I have to go out for events regularly and I like having the reminders there. Plus it integrates nicely with the GTD method of having only time-sensitive tasks in the calender.

    I like having the date on the clock! I know it adds to the clutter but it’s just me – it reminds me of a Mac :p

  3. rob
    August 29 2007 at 3:53 am #

    Thanks for the link to desktopography – superb site and I’ve got myself a nice new desktop. The actual link in your article is wrong i think – it should be

  4. Alvin Soon
    August 29 2007 at 11:06 pm #

    Oops! You’re right, Rob, thanks! The link has been amended.

  5. paket
    September 1 2007 at 12:06 am #

    Complexity and disorder is the natural way of things. Real life doesn’t fit into orthogonal containers. Clutter represents uncertainty, mankind’s greatest fear. Learn to accept it, appreciate it, love it!


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