In Stephen Covey’s book, the Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, a persons actions and activities are divided into a matrix of four quadrants. The first quadrant is comprised of things that are important and urgent in our daily living such as emergencies, crises, deadlines that are fast approaching, etc. The second quadrant includes things that are important but not urgent. In recovery this might include reading a relapse prevention book, making amends with a person or making retribution. The third quadrant is urgent, but unimportant activities like interruptions from a child, needing to have a cigarette, etc. The fourth quadrant is neither urgent nor important. This would include time wasting activities like playing solitaire on the computer, random web surfing and video games.
A very useful exercise for someone attempting to make meaningful changes in their thinking and their lives is to fill up these four quadrants with the activities of ones day and estimate the percentage of time that was spent in each quadrant. A person who is crisis oriented will spend most of their time in quadrants one and three. A person not actively pursuing goals or changing distorted thinking patterns can spend a significant amount of time in quadrant four doing many mindless things. A person actively attempting to change the bad habits and errors in their thinking will purposely make time for activities that are very important, but not necessarily urgent. Quadrant two is the heart of recovery and thinking change!
The next blog will discuss the thinking errors that keep us rooted in quadrants one, three and four and the corrections to those errors that will lead us to increase the time spent in quadrant two.