Reading through an article about the Eisenhower decision matrix recently, I was thinking how closely that aligned with my homeschooling experience. Hello? A chronic battle between the urgent/important versus the nagging, unrelenting whine of the not urgent/not important?
I think part of the problem is that home-tending and home-schooling are simultaneous. Add a layer of family nurturing to reading, writing, and ‘rithmatic. The laundry gets in the way of math. Reading sometimes overtakes the dishes.
So, what can this decision matrix idea do for me? I took the liberty of rewriting the matrix for parenting, but the idea is the same. Column one items are URGENT; Column two items are not. Row one items are IMPORTANT (in the long term); row two items are not – at least not to you. I do encourage you to read the article linked here for a in depth look at each quadrant.
I wondered: Could I be confusing the urgent with the important?
My personal goal has become moving Quadrant 1 and 3 activities out of my life, as much as possible. For Quadrant 1 items, I simply must get others on board! Delegate! – the kids can help more, I can split the carpooling to swim team with another mom, I should recruit more help in my volunteer work at church and in my co-op. Yes, this all involves time up front, but it pays big “Quadrant 2” dividends soon. And, frankly, April 15th rolls around at the same time each year. So does December 25th. I needed to start to plan deadline items, so they didn't become a crisis.
I have a finite number of hours, and a finite amount of energy. What are the things that ONLY I can do? I must do THEM well. Only I can be a wife to my husband. Only I can be a mom to my children. Those must be my priorities. I must be healthy – spiritually, physically, emotionally – to fulfill those priorities. This is my Quadrant 2.
And Quadrant 4? These activities are neither urgent nor important. Should we just get rid of them? Well, I wouldn’t go that far. But, I do think we should consider those activities as “Doritos for the brain.” These are the snack, the quick-grab treat you may allow yourself after dinner twice a week. Quadrant 2 – there is the true meal! We are all-too-aware of how quickly the sand slips through the hourglass. Try to consciously transform potentially time-wasting activities into relationship builders. Invite friends over to watch the big game Sunday afternoon. If you like video games, plan a family video game championship for four hours one rainy afternoon. Transform Quadrant 4 activities into Quadrant 2 memory makers!
My encouragement to you, today, is to stop and consider. What do you consider the most important activities or goals of life? What is it only you can do? Build into those priorities.
Not all Rigor is Mortis!