By Ann Boyd

Important but Not Urgent

Years ago, I read Stephen Covey's influential book The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, and it helped shape my life as a young college grad. One of the best things from that book is his quadrant chart:

Specifically, the idea that one should carve out time to do things that are “important, but not urgent” (he calls them "Quadrant II activities") was really transformative for me. It was helpful for me to begin to shape my adult life with the knowledge that some things must be scheduled — even if they do not feel urgent — for the benefit of long-term healthy living and personal growth.
Lots of things fall into the Quadrant II category:
  • Spiritual disciplines: regular times of personal prayer and study, being part of a Bible study group, taking retreat time to reflect on your life and vocation
  • Taking care of your health: eating well, exercising, scheduling an annual physical exam
  • Nurturing relationships: calling your mom, writing letters to friends, sending packages, getting together with friends for coffee
  • Ordering your financial life: creating a budget, discerning your plans for donating money, planning ahead for big expenditures

It's never easy to take this kind of time when you could be _____ (studying! writing! reading! working!), but it is almost always beneficial. 

What kinds of things fall into your Quadrant II category? Do you have plans to address them? 

About the Author

Ann has worked for InterVarsity Christian Fellowship since 1997, exploring her interests and gifts in music, teaching, and spiritual formation. These days, Ann spends free moments writing fiction and baking shortbread. She and her husband Jon live in Chicago with their two teenage daughters. Ann is the managing editor of The Well and the host of our podcast, All Shall Be Well.

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