When I read Stephen Covey’s The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People back in the early 90s, it was clear then that Quadrant ii (Qii) is where I wanted to be:
But it wasn’t until I learned about “Buffer” days in Strategic Coach that I made it a consistent routine. When I first started, I felt lucky if I could eke out a partial Qii day. It seemed impossible to just “think” and not “do” for a few hours, never mind an entire day!
But of course, it IS work — the best kind of work. There is so much value in reflecting on your business, like better defining your ideal client and addressing energy-sapping issues, from the mess on your desk to the 20 things on your list that should probably be delegated. When every day your priority is to call and meet with clients, strategic creative thinking is not going to happen. An effective Qii day frees you up — guilt-free — to NOT call clients or make business development appointments because you will be diligently prioritizing and optimizing how you do these activities on your “do” days.
There are so many things you can do on a Qii day; once you figure that out, you can’t NOT have at least one per week.
Here are my favorite Qii priorities:
The AM/PM 15 Minutes
Take your master list of annual goals; break them down into projects, then activities, and then this quarter’s priorities. Decide which project components must be done each week. Every day should have no more than three must-dos that move those projects forward. Decide what they will be the night before, lay out the relevant materials on your desk or electronic organizer, and clear everything else off. In the morning, get to work on those three things right away. Three little things, done intentionally every day for a year adds up to 690 intentional “little things” that roll up to an amazingly successful year.
(Thank you to Betsy Buckley for introducing me to this idea!)
Fifteen-Minute, One-on-One Meetings With Your Team
This is time dedicated to giving each of your team members a voice and a chance to trust and value your partnership. This is not a project status meeting. Your objective is to give them the confidence to give their input, to find out if they need more work or less, and to hear their concerns, their suggestions, or requests for help. The exchange may start slow, but once the meeting habit is ingrained, they will save up topics for these meetings and you’ll find everyone is more laser-focused the rest of the week.
Team Status Meetings
Synergize, streamline communication, and review and/or revise objectives. Catch each other up on last week’s milestones, turning points, client issues, and process issues. Present your outcomes for the coming week so that everyone knows what everyone else’s priorities are. In one meeting many years ago, one of my team members insisted my two-hour client meetings needed to be shortened. I have to say, she was right. Once we made that decision, we rearranged the client agenda template and accomplished what we needed in 60-90 minutes per meeting.
Re-Energize Your Wisdom and Creativity
The most obvious benefit of making time for “important, not urgent” work is that these activities require a different mindset for excellence. You are calm and un-rushed, so you can brainstorm and innovate.
Once your weekly Qii day becomes as consistent as brushing your teeth, you’ll look back one day and see the enormous leverage it has created in your business. Think of exercise, prayer, meditation, and compound interest: You don't necessarily see immediate results, but it's the regular habit that gives you the freedom to get to your next level.
When do you do your strategizing? Do you include your team? Would a Qii day fit into your workweek? Share your thoughts below.