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Why You Should Stop Doing and Start Planning

Many of us dread — and therefore put off — a necessary task: defining our business goals for the upcoming year. Now that we've reached the middle of 2020, it's important to be proactive about looking ahead.

But you may be feeling that the job is too overwhelming — and anyways, you have immediate deadlines that you need to attend to now, plus a backlog of tasks that you haven’t even had time to look at. Why plan for the upcoming year when it’s not exactly urgent?

Trust me, I used to feel the same way. But then I read Stephen Covey’s The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People back in the early ‘90s and it was a breakthrough moment for me.

Covey breaks down life’s activities into four quadrants:

  • Quadrant I: Urgent & important — for example, crises, deadlines, unexpected opportunities.

  • Quadrant II: Not urgent, but important — for example, planning recreation, relationship-building, doing, learning.

  • Quadrant III: Urgent but not important — for example, interruptions, meetings.

  • Quadrant IV: Not urgent & not important — for example, trivia, time wasters, gossip, excessive TV watching.

As explained in this Forbes article, Quadrant II tasks “are things we know we need to get to but probably will push off. It's having a lunch with an important contact or client. Relationship-building. Some long-term planning. It could be attending a conference to learn about some new area that you've heard a little bit about and which sounds promising but might not pan out into anything.”

Other books and business coaches also follow Quadrant II but use different terms. For instance, Strategic Coach urges entrepreneurs to build in Buffer Days: “Buffer Days are the essential ‘backstage’ preparation days that make Free Days more free and your Focus Days more focused.”

After reading The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, I knew that Quadrant II (Qii) was where I wanted to be (hence our company name). In the beginning, I could barely do 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 like the mess on your desk or 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.

Which brings me back to planning for the year ahead. Think of Quadrant II when sitting down and reflecting on what you want to accomplish in 2021.

If you’d like more goal-setting advice, reach out to Qii Consulting. As a Gallup-Certified Strengths Coach, Kolbe-Certified Coach, and growth consultant, I will help you to adopt the mindsets that will set you apart from the field, attract ideal clients and make you an A-Player magnet.

Thanks, and wishing you all a happy Fourth of July weekend!

— Colleen Jordan Hallinan, founder of Qii Consulting

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