Get to Know the Problem

As stated in part 2, you cannot solve a problem until you know a problem does exist.  When you know a problem does exist, you have to know where the problems are, what the details of each problem are, and can the problem be corrected.ClockCredit:   To help you with this part I have provided you a daily log to write down the activities you are doing each day.  This log should be done for three consecutive days while you are following a normal routine. 

Activity Log


Daily Record of Activities

Date: __________________________




Was it planned?

Did it take you away from another activity? If so, what

If unplanned, could you have done it at some other time?





















































































In the cells in the time category you should mark down the beginning and ending time of each activity.  You should also do the math and write down in minutes and hours how long each tasks takes. 

 Log of TasksCredit:

Under the category heading of Activity you should write down a brief description of the tasks as well as what area of life it is pertaining to.  For instance, if you are fixing a broken sink at your house, the description would say “fixing sink-Home life.”  If you are working on a report for the boss, it might read “XYZ company report-Work life.” 


Under the category “Was it planned” you should right whether this was something on your to-do list or was it unexpected.  The example above of having to fix the sink at home could be answered “yes” or “no” depending on the situation.  If your sink has been broken for a few days and your wife is getting frustrated with you and you told her you would do it this weekend, it better be on your to-do list for Saturday morning, and you would have written, “yes” to it was planned.  If the sink broke and you had to fix it right then due to busted water pipes, then you would obviously write “no” in this cell on the record. 


The next category of “did it take you away from another activity", you would write yes or no and also include the one it took you away from.  This should be easy to do if you are using this log in a chronological order.  The task right above this one would be the one the new activity took you away from.  The last category is asking you to determine if the new project or tasks could have been done at a later time if it was not planned.


At the end of each day you should review this and determine how much time was spent doing activities that were planned, activities that were not planned but needed to be done, and activities that were not planned and could have waited. 


Process Quadrants

Activities can be broken into the following four categories:  Activities that are planned and important; activities that are planned, but not important; Activities that are not planned, but important; and activities that are not planned and not important.  These can be visually displayed in the following table:


1.  Activities in this quadrant are planned and are important. 


2.  Activities in this quadrant are planned but NOT important. 

3.  Activities in this quadrant are NOT planned, but are important. 

4.  Activities in this quadrant are NOT planned and not important.    


I am going to describe the quadrants and the projects that might be found in each.  I am providing a list of a few things that may fall in each category.  Remember what is important to one person might be a time-waster to another and vice-versa.  I will get back to the Daily Record of Activities and how we incorporate it with the quadrants to make out a to-do list that is effective and will allow us to manage our time more effectively after we discuss the quadrants.

Quadrant 1 is the taks you put on your to-do list and need to be completed in the time frame of your to-do list.  These are projects that cannot be postponed and require immediate attention. 


  • Daily reports
  • Assignments from your boss, marked immediate attention
  • Personal Hygiene activities
  • Doctor’s appointments when you are sick
  • Scheduled meetings with clients or co-workers
  • Spending planned time with your family


Quadrant 2 is for tasks that are on your to-do list but you can put them off to another time.  These are also the projects that you could delegate, if possible, to those working for you.  These will need to be done but someone else may be able to do them.  These things might be an assignment that is not due for a while and you may be able to put them off if there are more important things that need to be done.  


  • End of the month reports (when it only the middle of the month)
  • Class assignments (for next week’s class)
  • Doctor’s appointments for check-ups
  • Cleaning the house (I do this one all the time.  Better watch it though, it may become an emergency).
  • Buying groceries
  • Reconciling the checkbook


Quadrant 3 is for tasks that are considered to be an emergency.  The emergency might be your boss told you 5 minutes ago he wanted the report on his desk by the end of the day. These are not planned, but require your immediate attention.   You did not know to put this on your to-do list or you forgot to put it on there.  Either way you must have it done and that will take precedent. 


  • You get sick or injured and have to go to seek medical attention.
  • Your boss says “do it now.”
  • You will lose your job, family, house, etc if you do not do it.
  • You forgot to do something that was due yesterday and can cause serious problems if not completed.


Quadrant 4 are time-wasters.  These are the things that are not important and are not planned.  We talked about them part 2 of this series. If the activity was important you should have had it on your to-do list anyway.  Avoid these quadrant 4 items.  These are the activities that will cause the best laid plans to become useless.


  • Video games
  • “Water cooler-coffee pot talk”
  • Excessive television
  • Window shopping
  • Daydreaming
  • Naps
  • Unscheduled visitors
  • Unwanted or unnecessary phone calls
  • Drinking alcohol excessively
  • Taking the scenic route home
  • Browsing on the internet
  • Taking illicit drugs
  • Compulsive gambling
  • “Sunday Driving”
  • Being lazy
  • etc


If you noticed there were a lot more activities that were put in quadrant 4.  That is because most of us, if we are honest with ourselves, spend way too much time doing activities that are put into this category.  This list is not exhaustive.  It was given just to provide examples. 



I would imagine if you look on your list and you had an average day you will find a mix of activities from each quadrant.  People who have good time management skills do not have poor social lives.  As a matter of fact, their social lives are probably better than most, because they have planned times to get things done and can plan to have an active social life. 



Quadrant 1: Appropriate

Quadrant 2:  Delegate


Quadrant 3:  Activate

Quadrant 4: Eliminate



The table listed above is a graphical representation of words to remember when planning your daily schedule derived from information you gathered when completing your Daily Record of Activities.


Quadrant 1 consist of those activities you have planned and deemed important.  You should Appropriate the necessary amount of time to those activities in your to-do list. 


Quadrant 2 are those activities that are unplanned but are important.  You can delegate these activities to someone else, or delegate those activities to another day when you will have more time to complete them. 


Quadrant 3 are those emergencies that arise in everyone’s life.  They are unplanned but very important.  You should activate yourself to complete the tasks with the upmost efficiency.  Efficiency means done accurately, with the optimal amount of energy, in the least amount of time. 


Quadrant 4 are unplanned, unimportant, time-wasters.  You should eliminate these activities. 


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