Hello! Kevin here with another episode of the Feel Good English Podcast. In episode three of this 7-part series, 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, we’re going to figure out how to prioritize the most important tasks in your day to help you reach your goals faster.
Maybe use a to-do list, you have a lot of things to do, but what do we do first? What’s the most important? How do we best manage our time, so we can get to where we need to be in the fastest way possible?
Getting into the episode now, listen. At the end, you’ll hear to the vocab. Then you go back and you listen to the episode again. And you will learn all of these cool lessons from these wonderful books and improve your English at the same time. Let’s get started.
So, in the second habit, the episode previous to this, start with the end in mind, we’re setting up goals, we’re creating our targets, what do we want to achieve. Now, the third habit is called first things first. This is going to help us reach those goals. We have to prioritize our day, prioritize our tasks and our actions on what’s most important, not what’s most urgent.
The big idea here is in order to manage ourselves, we must put first things first. We must put the most important tasks first, not the most urgent tasks.
So, the author of the book, Stephen Covey, he creates this 4-quadrant system to identify what’s most important. The most important tasks, what are they? In the book, you’ll find four quadrants.
And these four quadrants are based on two factors, urgent and important. So, urgent, we’re talking about time, when something has to be done soon. And important is obvious. It’s something important. So these are the two deciding factors here. And these are separate. We’re going to look at four quadrants. Quadrant here means areas.
The first area, quadrant one, area one, things that are important and urgent. So, they have a time factor and they’re important. Emergencies at work, really big problems that have to be solved, or deadlines (a deadline, a project has to be done tomorrow by 8 a.m.), that’s urgent and important. You don’t have an option. You have to finish it.
These things really stay in the mind a lot. We think about these a lot because they’re important and they have to be done soon. They’re very stress-causing. This causes a lot of stress, mostly because of this urgency. Whenever we think we don’t have a lot of time to do something, we get stressed out about it, which could be a good thing as well. It puts us in a mood or it gives us motivation to get things done. Sometimes, we have to have a little bit of stress. So that’s quadrant one, the first quadrant.
The second quadrant are things that are important, but not urgent. So, these things are important to do, but they don’t have a deadline or they don’t need to be done soon.
So, building your skills, becoming better at what you do, building relationships with who you work with or who you study with, these things are important, but they’re not urgent. You don’t have to become best friends with your boss tomorrow. But it’s something that you build on. Being open to new opportunities, recognizing new opportunities, planning for your future, planning future positions or yearly goals or things like this that aren’t supposed to be done soon, but are important, that’s quadrant two, area two. They’re important, but not urgent.
Next quadrant, three, these are not important, but urgent or you think they’re urgent. These days, we are bombarded by urgent but not important things, these quadrant three things like interruption and social media posts and messages and all of these things, WhatsApp messages (people send you all those crap and pictures of whatever and videos of people doing stupid things). You think it’s important, “Oh, I got to check this now.” It’s obviously not important, but you think it’s urgen, so it interrupts you a lot.
Also, meetings at work, how many times you have meetings that are just pointless. They’re not important. They say, “Oh, we have to have a meeting in an hour,” but then you go to the meeting, nothing that’s important is talked about. It’s just a waste of time. So, quadrant three.
Quadrant four, the last one, area four, quadrant four, these are not important and not urgent. So, these obviously should be taken out of your life like busy work, talking to co-workers in the kitchen for 30 minutes about TV or wasting your time searching the net just looking at different things and wasting time basically.
If you think about a day at work, how much of that time is spent on this area four, these quadrant four tasks, doing things that aren’t important, that aren’t urgent. They’re pleasurable, they’re fun, they’re entertaining, they’re relaxing. When you’re lazy, you’re in this area. You’re just surfing the net or doing whatever. So, these are quadrant four. Get rid of these activities. Start looking for these activities.
Summarizing these different quadrants, if we focus on quadrant one and spend our time managing crisis and problems, they keep getting bigger and bigger until it consumes us. We’re stressed out, we’re burnt out and we’re constantly resolving problems and issues. We’re basically just reacting to everything. We’re reacting to things that happen to us, trying to put out the fire. We get stressed and burnt out.
Quadrant three, we spend most of our time reacting to matters that seem urgent. We think these things are important like boring, worthless meetings, when the reality is that the urgency is based on other people’s expectations and priorities.
Of course, if you work for somebody, if you work for somebody, you can’t just say, “I’m not going to the meeting,” but you get the idea of why they are worthless. It gives you a little more insight to why they are pointless. If you are a manager or if you’re in a supervisor position, maybe you can use a little more discretion on when to have meetings.
Quadrant four, area four, we’re basically leading an irresponsible life, or being lazy. We’re wasting people’s time, we’re wasting our own time. You can possibly get fired from your job or you’ll just be dependent on the workers. The boss will see that you’re not a very good worker. You’ll never get promoted, you’ll never move up because you’re wasting time. Make sure you get rid of these areas in your life. These time-wasters need to go.
Smart people, focus as much energy and time into activities that are important, but not urgent. An obvious example here is your English. You might not need to speak English perfectly by next week, you might not even have a deadline of a year, but you know it’s important. You know that it’s important.
However, what happens? Other things come into your life that you think are more important and more urgent – problems at work, problems at home, in your personal life. These things come into your life. You give them more priority in your day.
So then English learning is put to the side. English is extremely important in your life. And you want to get to where you want to be, you’re going to have to realize that now and you’re going to have to focus on that now. It’s important, but it’s not urgent.
This involves discipline. Where does this discipline come from, to stay disciplined enough, to put your time into things that are important but not urgent like English? Building habits, all of these stuff comes into play here. But you know why it’s important, and you also know why it’s hard. If it’s not urgent, it’s difficult to stay focused and to stay disciplined. If it’s urgent, it’s easy to stay disciplined and focused, right?
So, make sure you are focusing on this, finding these important yet not urgent activities from quadrant two like learning English. And these will bring you the most value in the future. Be smart, think smart, act smart. Focus on these activities.
Often, there’s no immediate result. It’s just being smart, being patient, doing what you need to do for future value.
I’m not saying it’s easy. I struggled with recording these episodes. I do other things that are not important. And I often know that I’m doing these things that are not so important. I’m cleaning my house instead of recording an episode. I’m fixing my website instead of recording an episode. I’m doing other things that I know aren’t as important, but I don’t know, we just do this. We procrastinate. We try to avoid things that make us scared or nervous or that we don’t want to do for whatever reason. And usually, these are the things that we need to do the most.
And think of your own life. If you can see these things, you keep avoiding doing something, that’s probably what you should do. It’s probably what you should focus your time on. Practice this. It takes practice. But we’re all learning, we’re all improving.
Going through the vocab from today’s episode, number one, urgent. Urgent means something needs to happen fast, something needs to finish fast, or something needs to be resolved fast. There’s a time factor.
Next word, number two, bombarded. Bombarded, that’s a great word. Bombarded means a lot of information, a lot of things, a lot of stuff comes at you very quickly in a large quantity. An example, online these days, you are bombarded with information. There’s so much information through social media and news and all different areas. You are bombarded with information.
Three, another word, crap. Crap is a derogatory word talking about something that is not of high quality. “That car is crap” or “This food is crap.” It means it’s not high quality food. You don’t like it, obviously, because it’s not high quality. So, that’s crap. “Don’t buy that. That’s crap.”
Next one is a phrasal verb, get rid of. To get rid of something means to throw it away. Get rid of it. Get it out of your situation. It could be trash. It could be a person. It could be a problem. It could be anything. You are getting it out of your life to get rid of it. To get rid, get + rid + of. Get rid of something. What do you need to get rid of in your life?
Next one, also a phrasal verb, but it’s used in an adjective form, burnt out. “I am burnt out.” To burn out or to be burnt out is to be completely exhausted. You have no energy left. You’re tired. You’re exhausted. I’m burnt out.
Another phrase I use here, use discretion. To use discretion is to use your brain to do something intelligently, to choose wisely. Use discretion when you do this. Use your wisdom. Don’t just rush into it.
The last one here, come into play. “This is going to come into play. This is going to affect something else.” So, this is a phrase here, to come into play.
To come into play is going to affect how things are done. So eventually, the problem of people arriving late to work is going to come into play. It’s going to affect what’s going on here.
Bam! There you go! Any other questions about vocab, find the episode on SoundCloud. You could ask the question right on there or go to my website, FeelGoodEnglish.com, and ask me personally.
So that will do it for this episode. Summarizing, in order to manage your time wisely, you have to decide which actions and which tasks to focus on. Focusing on tasks that will bring you the most value in the future and being able to recognize urgent and unimportant things that come to you during your day and avoid doing those tasks will help you achieve the best results and the most progress.
Learn more about the different quadrants of time management by searching online or reading the book, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. And practice on how to choose how to best use your time every day.
I’ve got a blonde joke for you today. Here it goes. “What did the blonde call her pet zebra? What did the blonde call her pet zebra?” Spot! She called him Spot.
See you next time!