7 Habits of Highly Effective People - Urgency Matrix

7 Habits of Highly Effective People - Urgency Matrix - Classroom Management, Planning, Teacher, Calendars, Created for Learning

My summer reading list includes the classic book, 7 HABITS OF HIGHLY EFFECTIVE PEOPLE by Steven Covey. I've been listening to the audiobook while I work on other things, and it's been a great journey so far. I'm about halfway done.

Here's a little gem I read today:

7 Habits of Highly Effective People - Urgency Matrix - Classroom Management, Planning, Teacher, Calendars, Created for Learning


And I think this is a good thought process for me as a teacher. Every day in the classroom, it seems like I get bombarded with things to do.
  1. Sign this office paperwork
  2. Organize these student release schedules
  3. Answer parent emails
  4. Post student resources to the online forum
  5. Plan for upcoming lessons
  6. Grade papers
  7. Be present with students who need me
  8. Discipline out-of-line knuckleheads
  9. etc. etc.
Every day before I leave my classroom to go home, I make a to-do list for tomorrow's jobs, but it can get a little overwhelming at times. What should be done first? What is sucking my emotional energy away and just needs to be done now so my brain won't melt?

The concept behind Covey's matrix is helpful, I think. Sort things by urgency, and do them in order. I wonder what my to-do list on the corner of my desk would look like if I organized them like this. Urgent AND Important gets done first. Then Urgent but Not Important. Then Not Urgent, but Important. Then Not Urgent, and Not Important. Maybe it's just me, but if I sorted things like this, I might never get to quadrant IV, but I suppose that's a good thing. Recognizing that stuff isn't urgent and isn't important would help ignite me into action on those days when my brain just feels like it's treading water in a Class 5 Whitewater Rapids.

So consider your to-do list for today...what things truly belong in Quadrant 1 - Important AND Urgent?

Consider how much time you're actually spending in each quadrant. Ask yourself:

Am I the kind of person that takes care of the URGENT/IMPORTANT Quadrant 1, then retreats immediately to Angry Birds or Candy Crush in Quadrant 4?

How much of my time is spent in Quadrant 3, where I might be confusing urgent things for important things? Maybe I could say No to these things that feel urgent but aren't important if I recognized them as such.

And how many things from Quadrant 2 do we just never seem to get around to as much as we doggonit know we should do those things? These are the things that are important to our lives but require us to choose to do them because they aren't urgent.
  • Exercise
  • Reading
  • Personal development
  • Relationship development
  • Spiritual development
  • Setting goals
  • Rest
  • All the things that you would say, "If I had time to do just one thing that I've been wanting to do, what would it be?" Those probably belong in Quadrant 2.

These are the heart of effective personal management. These are the preventive maintenance that will help us avoid many a crisis. They help us starve problems and think preventatively.

7 Habits of Highly Effective People - Urgency Matrix - Classroom Management, Planning, Teacher, Calendars, Created for Learning


This honest evaluation of myself will show me patterns of my life and open up my stinking eyes to the priority of stuff I'm skipping over each day...you know...those things that you keep meaning to get done but they never seem to get done but they're really important ... they really are, I swear! :)

So here's a tip of my glass to a more alert inner journey! Happy teaching! Happy life!




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