By Jim Bruckbauer

Organization gurus like to divide activities into four categories or quadrants.  You’ve probably heard how they’re defined: Quadrant I activities are urgent and important; Quadrant II activities are not urgent, but important; Quadrant III activities are urgent but unimportant; and Quadrant IV activities are neither urgent nor important (a.k.a. seductive time-wasters).

We could go into great detail about all four Quadrants and how they affect our lives and productivity, but for now, let’s just look at Quadrant II a little more closely.

Since many important activities don’t give us the added impetus of urgency, they tend to get pushed to the back burner.  But Quadrant II activities are essential to eliminating the unimportant activities that seem to take up most of our time.  Examples of Quadrant II activities include planning, relationship building, preventative measures, and regular exercise. These are the proactive things we can do to keep pressing problems from arising in our lives.

One of the most important Quadrant II activities we can do is to practice self-renewal.

Stephen Covey calls these exercises “sharpening the saw” and says that if you work on these dimensions of your life for one hour a day, “no other single hour of your day will return as much as you invest in sharpening the saw.”*

Self-renewal exercises work to renew the four dimensions of the human personality: physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual.

Physical – Participate in some kind of balanced, moderate, regular program of aerobic exercise. Stretching for flexibility and doing resistance exercises for strength are also very helpful.

Mental – Exercise your mind through reading, creative problem-solving and writing.

Social/Emotional – Practice empathetic communication and cooperation, seeking to serve others.

Spiritual – Spend time on the things that deeply inspire and uplift you. For some it’s religion and prayerful meditation. For others, it’s great literature or music.

If all these dimensions work congruently with each other, tremendous energy and effectiveness can result.

My challenge to you is to try to spend an hour a day on self-renewal and see if you feel a difference and if others see a difference.  Some of the activities can be done naturally throughout the day, while others will need scheduled time. It’s time well-invested, however. It will improve your self-esteem and positively impact your relationships with others.

*Covey, Stephen R., The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People