Life Changes

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Diane Feels Overwhelmed – What Leads to It?

Diane Feels Overwhelmed – What Leads to It?

Listen to Diane and Coach Meg here:

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Recently I asked coaches in the Wellcoaches community to submit a list of 10 ways in which they want to thrive. Diane is dealing with some challenging health issues and asked me for a series of coaching sessions designed to improve her health and life satisfaction.

In our third session, Diane's excitement for goal setting and visioning was being drowned out by the noise of daily tasks and to dos. She had fallen into the trap of believing that everything on the list is a priority and worthy of concern when not accomplished immediately.

Determining Importance
Time management guru Dr. Stephen R. Covey has much to say about the subject of prioritization and its impact on our well-being. Dr. Covey suggests that we place our tasks into one of four categories, which he depicts in "quadrants."

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  • Quadrant 1 includes tasks that are "urgent" and "important." These are tasks that must be accomplished immediately or they will lose their impact. For example, putting out a fire would be important to choose immediately, as putting it out tomorrow would likely not be of value. Wishing someone "Happy Birthday" on their actual birthday, rather than a day later, is another example of a Quadrant 1 task.
  • Quadrant 2 includes tasks that are "not urgent" but are "Important." These activities are those that lead to a better quality of life and self, including improving communication, planning and preparation, self-care, personal development, and empowerment. Though these are not "in-your-face" tasks like those in Quadrant 1 or Quadrant 3, Dr. Covey suggests that we must make these a priority.
  • Quadrant 3 includes tasks that are "urgent" and "not important." In this category we find those things that feel important because of their immediacy, such as answering the ringing phone or responding to the sound of a new email arriving in our inbox. Here we have a Pavlovian, reactive response to things that aren't critical but are calling to us.
  • Quadrant 4 includes tasks that are both "not urgent" and "not important." This is the Quadrant of "excess." From this place we get caught up in the unimportant and non-urgent activities like playing Internet games for hours or organizing a drawer in the garage that hasn't been opened for years.

Coaching Inquires
In which Quadrant do you spend most of your time? Which Quadrant provides you energy to keep going? Which drains your energy? What can you do to make more intentional choices about how you spend your time?

Margaret Moore is the co-director of the McLean/Harvard Medical School Institute of Coaching.

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