I Missed My Deadline

I didn’t blog last week.  I missed my deadline.  I got too busy doing other things.  They were all important – well some of the things on my list were important.  But not all of them.  Some were just urgent.  Sound familiar?
 
Time management.  Many articles have been written about time management.  However, I tend to favor Steven Covey’s time grid because it doesn’t take much effort to figure out where the project that staring you down actually fits.
 
My blog falls into Quadrant 1.  Besides being important to the work I do, it is a time of reflection for me.  It allows me to step back from my client work, take a breath, center, and think creatively.  It makes me a better coach and consultant.

  source: Stephen Covey, 7 Habits of Highly Effective People

  • Quadrant I is for the immediate and important deadlines.
  • Quadrant II is for long-term strategizing and development.
  • Quadrant III is for time-pressured distractions. They are not really important, but someone wants it now.
  • Quadrant IV is for those activities that yield little if any value. These are activities that are often used for taking a break from time-pressured and important activities.

Generally, my clients’ needs fall into two quadrants.  Quadrant I – immediate and important deadlines, and Quadrant III – not important but someone wants it now.  Too often, we don’t spend nearly enough time in Quadrant II – long-term strategizing and development.
 
We’re driven by calendars, deadlines, outputs, benchmarks, etc. – all those things our bosses measure our work against.  Those are the deadlines that get our attention.  We do what we measure. 
 
We also regularly find ourselves feverously trying to balance the other demands that may come in from our bosses that aren’t in Quadrant I for us.  They need them. They’re urgent, but they may not be important to what we’re measured against or what is urgent in our timeline.  What to do?
 
For those board members in the nonprofit sector, remember your requests run downhill to a CEO who then may push that work further downhill to development and/or program staff.  Everyone is suddenly in a frenzy meeting established deadlines AND new requests.  Often those requests may seem like something simple to you, but for the staff to find, define and implement ideas, they’re like searching for the Holy Grail.  It can be a long and dangerous adventure!
 
CEO’s serve as the interface between governance and staff.  They are critical buffers.  And let’s face it…it can be a lonely job.  Message to CEO’s - find your truth tellers (a blog topic for another time) who can provide a constant read on the culture inside the organization.  When the pressure comes from above or from outside, ask your team what else they have on their plate.  Strategize.  Remove something for the short- or long-term as appropriate to meet new goals. Get creative.  Operate in Quadrant II.
 
For senior staff, if your CEO doesn’t ask you the “how do you want to prioritize this” question.  Then you raise it.  Be bold.  You both want to do right by the organization.  And remember, your boss has to answer to a board.  We all have bosses.
 
My bosses are my clients.  So while I missed my deadline, I am working on a solution for those times it gets insanely busy.  However, my work…my purpose…is as much outside of myself as it is within myself.  So, sometimes – just sometimes – my time, my project can be found in Quadrant III – urgent and not important.