Friday, 22 December 2006

Sharpening Pencils

'Tis the day before Christmas Eve Eve,and technically my day off. Though there are lots of things to do, and so I just caught myself 'sharpening pencils'.
This is (amongst others) Stephen Covey's Quadrant Theory (here) which denotes the frustrating tendency we (I) often have to attend to the non-important/non-urgent tasks of life because we are overwhelmed by the pile of stuff we have to get through.
If we map between Important and Urgent then there are four possibilities which motivate how we choose what to do.: Important and Urgent; Important but not urgent, Not Important-but Urgent, and Not Important-Not Urgent

Western societies are very urgency driven. Witness the insidious phone. How often have we broken off something important (be it making love, or listening to someone's sorrow) to answer the stupid phone, only to find it is the dentist reminding us about next week's appointment. that's a whole other blog

The point is that we will often choose to do the unimportant-urgent ahead of the important-but not urgent. This latter quadrant includes: planning and evaluation, thinking about the future, spending time with your beloved, wasting time with kids and so on. The very things that really change life's meaning and improve the quality of relationships. Seldom as urgent as a cut finger, or as insistent as a phone they often get left and very often never get done.

Covey makes the "sharpening pencils" point ...which is about Quadrant IV -Not Important and Not Urgent---that strangely when we are really swamped and feeling ourselves getting buried by competing demands we often choose to operate here rather than get on with the difficult stuff. It's certainly true for me. And I see it as a warning more than anything else, when I find myself sharpening pencils, or typing old school teachers into Google (what I was doing this a.m.) then alarum bells should go off that there is a huger than usual pile that I am avoiding.

This all begs the question about whether or not "blogging" is sharpening pencils. It may be.

At its worst it's just time wasting isn't it. So I try, (at least I try) to do better than that. In that sense I hope it is more Quad II than Quad IV. I imagine that those who think other wise either don't read this or stopped reading some time ago; and those who agree that blogging at least may be important are inclined to accept this opinion.

Well time to go and sweep up the clippings.

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