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Decision Making - Using The Quadrant Manager System© Ensures Greater Productivity Versus Activity!

SERIES: Part One of a Four-Part Article

When the dust settles and the calm returns, the degree of quality productivity versus sheer activity will mean the difference between profitability and mere sustainability in today’s business place. To attain this, one must be able to facilitate basic decision-making in relation to what one focuses energy on and what should be set aside or ignored entirely.

In today’s business place, whether a professional uses an electronic self-management device (PDA) or a more traditional day planner, it is critical that the use of a tactical system be adopted and used diligently for true productivity.

An incredibly simple, yet explosive, tactical productivity decision-making instrument that can be adopted into any system is the “Quadrant Manager System© (QM)!”

To ensure maximum productivity, use the following instrument daily. It can be added to any existing system to ensure the totality of listed action items needing daily attention get the appropriate level of attention. The instrument also serves as an efficient daily monitoring instrument at mid-day by evaluating what items in one’s business have been addressed by mid-day and thus where energies should be focused for the remainder of the day.

Always remember, there is a difference between being active and being productive!

To use the QM System© there are three distinct tactical steps. Both psychology and profitability are incorporated into the implementation of the QM System©. If you shortcut any step, you will find that you will lapse into an ACTIVITY zone and not a PRODUCTIVITY zone!

  1. STEP ONE, CREATE IT - Anywhere on your existing physical day planning device or on any blank sheet of paper, merely draw a large plus sign. Make the sign large enough to make small notes within the four quadrants imposed by the intersecting lines, yet small enough to not take up much physical space.

    The plus sign created by the intersecting lines creates four distinct quadrants (hence the QM System©), each representing a productivity zone. In any order, it does not matter, label the four quadrants: TO DO, TO SEE, TO CALL, TO WRITE.

    These represent the only workable action items one faces in business. All tasks, assignments, and activities can be attributed to any one of these four quadrants!
  2. STEP TWO, BUILD IT – Regardless of the totality of items you may have assigned to a pre-existing action/to do list, to increase productivity greatly, you must evaluate each category within the QM System©. Only write up to, and never more than, THREE ENTRIES in each quadrant. If there are not three items needing attention for a given day in a given quadrant, don’t make up extra work for yourself. If there are more than three, the rule of thumb is, “If I could only work on up to, and no more than, three items per quadrant, which three would be most important?”

    Now you have identified the three most important action items for productivity for a given day. If accomplished, you will have completed the top 12 most productive items needing your attention, as opposed to countless items that, while they may have needed attention, were not critical and, thus, not important. When the dust settled they were probably more along the lines of items that occupied a lot of activity and not productivity!
  3. STEP THREE, PRIORITIZE IT – Now evaluate each quadrant independently. Using the same methodology used for placing the initial entries into the quadrants, evaluate and prioritize each quadrant’s action items by asking, “If I could only work on one item in this quadrant, which one would be most important?”

    Continue that evaluation for all entries in each quadrant and for all four quadrants. When you are done, you will have a maximum of three items per quadrant, and each will have a descending numerical value associated with it. Notice that you may have items in a quadrant that, while you wrote them down as the first entry in that quadrant, have a value of two or three associated with them. This indicates that they get your attention only after the “one’s” have been completed or pushed forward as far as they can for legitimate reasons.

To ensure maximum productivity, always work tactically on those items that are genuinely most important. You can take the QM System© and occasionally modify your attention by drawing a circle in the middle of the instrument. Then prioritize the quadrants, one more important than the other, as well as the items within each quadrant.

Additional lessons learned from the implementation of the system are: All items that fall at level three or below are those that should either be delegated away to others or should never have been allowed onto your figurative desk; you can use the instrument as a conversation reference with those that over-task you by engaging in cooperatively deciding which items need your true attention and which items can be better tasked away to others; you can modify the system and have tactical variations for just marketing, selling, research-development, business projects, and so on.

Success in the new economy is dependent upon every player at every level setting aside those items that may be fun but are not productivity items for one’s bottom line purpose!

What is your bottom line purpose?

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