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Quadrant Four—Finding Your Motivation


Quadrant 4: Quadrant of Default/Waste,  Time Wasters

Quadrant One

Quadrant Two

Quadrant Three

Quadrant Four


The final quadrant in the Time Matrix is Quadrant Four. This quadrant is waste and it’s usually filled with regret. If you’re managing your tasks with a Quadrant Four mindset, you’re likely stuck in a rut of, “Not Urgent, Not Important.”

Being stuck in Quadrant Four doesn’t mean you’re lazy. It means you’ve lost your motivation. You can fall into Quadrant Four when you have no energy to do anything else—perhaps after too many hours of rushing around with urgent activities.

One of the challenges of Quadrant Four is that many of the activities that fall into this quadrant can also be found in Quadrant Two. Part of managing your life with a Quadrant Two mindset includes sharpening the saw with study, practice, rest, and recreation. Properly done, these activities are not a waste of time—they act to strengthen you and add a respite in your day.

People who over-indulge in these activities often rationalize that they need the downtime. However, many activities that fall into Quadrant Four are habit-forming—television, social media, surfing the web, video games, over-sleeping, the list goes on. So even if you fell into Quadrant Four from exhaustion, you may find that you’re stuck there by habit—dawdling until things become urgent.

Sadly, some things that are important never become urgent—calling your mother just to talk, visiting a neighbor, or fishing with a brother. Because they aren’t urgent, you don’t do them—but they still matter. If you’re stuck in Quadrant Four you won’t plan opportunities to strengthen relationships, grow your skillset, or serve others.

Avoid Procrastination. We sneak off to Quadrant Four to procrastinate, but be careful. Procrastinating will force you into Quadrant One quickly. If you do need a break and want to spend time zoning out in Quadrant Four, set a timer to ensure your 15-minute social media escape doesn’t turn into 2 hours that you’ll never get back.

Remember What Matters Most. If you’ve been here long, you might need a little motivation. Imagine everything you care deeply about—your talents, knowledge, skillset, family members, friends, hobbies, income, all of it—are on the opposite side of a huge ravine. In order for you to get any one of them, you need to cross a 200-foot I-beam spanning that ravine. As you consider this, there are some things that you’d walk away from, but there are others that you’d go after without hesitation. Those are your top priorities. They matter most.

If you fail to recognize what matters most in your life, you may overlook them completely and focus instead on what you believe is missing. This fosters a mindset of want and discouragement that will pull you into yourself until all you see is what you don’t have. Discouragement is a real motivation killer. Start today to find what matters most to you, and determine to do more with it.

Develop Gratitude With An Outward Focus. Find people around you to serve, and you’ll start to see how much you have. You’ll realize your own value and the good you can do. These activities foster gratitude, and gratitude can empower change.

Set goals. Use our Goal Planning Form and set one specific goal based on the things you value most. At first, make small, short-term goals that you can reach within a month or so. Break that goal into small daily steps and schedule those steps in your planner. As you begin working on these small goals, you’ll develop the confidence to do more.

Move Into Quadrant Two. Read through the blogs for Quadrants One, Two, and Three, and determine what you need to do to move into Quadrant Two. It starts with a long-term vision of what you hope to become, and ends with the power of consistent daily planning to ensure you live that vision. Setting goals and planning tasks to reach them is invigorating. You can do this, and it’s easier than it sounds!

Keep at it. Planning and goal setting are like brushing and flossing your teeth. When you were little, it may have been hard to remember, but over time it became a habit. You can’t go to bed now until you’ve done it. Do the same with planning. Keep at it until it becomes second nature. You have a bright future ahead of you with dreams to catch, so start dreaming and acting on those dreams right now.

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