Tools to Overcome Time Bandits: Part 1

In the last post, we looked at several strategies for dealing with time bandits — those things that steal your time and derail you from your mission. In the next few posts, we’ll look at specific tools you can use to overcome time bandits. The first one is the 4-quadrant time matrix first introduced by Stephen Covey.


Quadrant I activities are the urgent and important—these activities include dealing with a crisis, meeting a tight deadline, a problem that has to be dealt with now. You need to spend some time here to be effective and these activities help you get to an edge and keep you sharp. This might include dealing with an irate or upset client that walked in the door, or last minute preparation on a proposal for a prospect meeting later in the day. If you tend to procrastinate, you may want to set deadlines to force yourself in this quadrant to get a project completed.

Too much time in this quadrant will lead to stress and errors. If you are spending too much time here, you should reassess your operation and how you are doing things. You should spend no more than 25% of your time in this quadrant.

Time spent in Quadrant II activities is the time that sets you apart from the rest of the pack. These activities include planning, learning, sharpening the saw, building relationships with clients, prospects, and centers of influence, recre- ation and vacation, the things that reenergize you. You should be spending between 60-75% of your time in this quadrant.

Quadrant III activities include interruptions, some calls, improperly handing e-mail, some meetings, some reports, measuring the wrong activities and results. You should spend as little time here as possible.

Quadrant IV activities are the not urgent and not important activities. These would be the time wasters, non-strategic, busy work. By its definition, you should spend no time in this quadrant.

If you spend less time in Quadrant III and no time in Quadrant IV, you will be able to spend more time in Quadrant II, which will reduce amount of time you spend in Quadrant I.

The key is when you prepare to do an activity, be aware of which quadrant it falls into. A good way to assess where you are spending your time is to keep a time log for at least two weeks. Using the time log, keep a record of how you are spending your time beginning with your first activity of the day. Note the activity, the time started, and the time you stopped this activity and started another. Keep a record of any time you changed your focus.

At the end of the day, note which quadrant you would assign this activity. If you leave the office, take your time log with you so you can keep as accurate records as possible. While this exercise will be tedious, it can be eye opening and valuable.

A study of financial advisors by PEAK, a consulting firm, found that producers of more than 1 million spent 75% of their time in the following activities:

  • Outlining client goals and objectives
  • Managing assets and research
  • Communicating with A+ clients
  • Staying physically fit
  • Cultivating A+ referrals
  • Deepening A+ and A relationships
  • Developing A+ and A client solutions
  • Meeting with staff

Where are you spending your time?

Published on December 22nd, 2014 in Blog

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By working with me as your coach, as your partner as you climb the mountain of high achievement, you should expect some , if not all of the following outcomes:

  • Take your business to a higher level
  • Develop strong marketing strategies
  • Develop or improve processes that will help you take your business to the next level while maintaining or improving life balance
  • Stay focused on doing the critical actions that will lead you to success
  • Have a time management process that will reduce the pressure of when and how to wear all the hats required as a sales professional and small business owner
  • Be better at what you do so you will be among the high achievers
  • Have a higher level of self confidence


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