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First Things First, IQTELL

wrote this on September 26, 2011
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Over the past few weeks, I’ve been interviewing users who were invited to IQTELL’s Early Beta User Group.  We received an overwhelming positive response; there have been some feature requests, of course, but it seems like we are moving in the right direction.

Our Early Beta User Group focuses primarily on two topics: (1) usability – how can we improve our users’ experience; and (2) functionality – what features should be added and based on what priority.  These sessions have been particularly helpful in settling “in-house discussions” as to which features to roll-out first ;-).

In addition to the above two topics, we have received enormous feedback regarding how GTD® methodology can be implemented in IQTELL.  Through our sessions, we have developed a personalized interface to our GTD users; we will be rolling this out of the next few weeks – stay tuned.

Earlier last week, a Beta user suggested that IQTELL could help him implement First Things First – a key principal presented by Dr. Stephen R. Covey in his book “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People”.  I found that IQTELL could be easily tailored to help Covey followers as well.  On my IQTELL Workspace, I primarily follow GTD, but for kicks, I created another Workspace and tailored it to implement Covey’s principals.

To the non-Coveyites, I’ll briefly put forth what I believe are his main First Thing First Principals.  Dr. Covey articulates that everything we do falls into four “buckets” or quadrants:

  • Quadrant I: Important and Urgent (deadline driven projects, “fires”).
  • Quadrant II: Important and Non-Urgent (planning, relationships, prevention, preparation).
  • Quadrant III: Urgent and Non Important (Quadrant of Deception – because its urgent we think it is important).
  • Quadrant IV: Not Important (the Quadrant of Waste).

Our objective, per Covey, is that we should continue to focus on Quadrant I.  However, instead of spending time on Quadrant III and IV, we should make effective decisions and focus more time on Quadrant II tasks and actions.  By planning ahead and focusing today on the important issues in our life (but that are not urgent now), we can remove future stress from our life.  Logically, if we implement this process over time, actions/tasks in Quadrant I are reduced (not to zero, of course) since we are planning ahead.

First Things First on IQTELL

I believe there are some analogies to David Allen’s GTD because we are forced to make decisions about incoming tasks/actions.  I’ve outlined below my IQTELL process for dealing with First Things First (I’ve also added in some of David Allen’s as well):

  • I added a label to my Tasks so that I can label each task as: Quadrant I, II, III, or IV.
  • From my IQTELL Dashboard, I review my “Watch List” which is broken down by the four Covey Quadrant labels.
  • Each day, I spend fifteen minutes to review my Quadrant II actions/tasks, and decide if I should add or update any of them.  This is my time to think outside of the box, and proactively decide if I want to add to my Quadrant II actions/tasks.
  • I then set aside (usually) 10 minutes in the morning, after lunch, and at the end of the day to go through my emails which are my main source of actions/tasks.  Here, I mix in some GTD, if I can deal with an email in 2 minutes, I’ll do it right away.  Otherwise, I’ll process each email to a task/action and immediately label it as Quadrant I, II, III, or IV.

The approach has actually helped me focus on the important actions/tasks in my life.  As a sanity check, I make sure that I spend most of my day on Quadrant II actions/tasks, and, of course, Quadrant I items.  It is now harder to work on non-important items from Quadrant III and IV because it is right infront of may face.  I labeled it myself as Quadrant III or IV so I would have to make a knowingly bad decision to procrastinate.

I’d be happy to hear from any Covey fans as to how they manage and apply First Things First in day to, day practice. 

PS – Press on the link if you want to join our IQTELL’s Productivity App.

* GTD® is a registered trademark of the David Allen Company. IQTELL is not affiliated with the David Allen Company.

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I live and breath productivity. I'd like to invite you to check our Productivity App! In addition to the app, you'll join our productivity community and receive support from a team of productivity experts who love what they do! You can contact us on Google+ or on Twitter if you have any questions. As an FYI, we recently released an amazing feature that helps to process your emails quickly and effectively - we call it EZ Email processing.

8 responses to “First Things First, IQTELL”

  1. Ian Spencer says:

    Nice to see the versatility and that you are able to use different processes. For me I think it will be grabbing the parts from all the time management strategies that are applicable to me.

    • Anonymous says:


      A GTD/FTF/TOC mixed system with a personal touch? :)
      I think that it’s the best way to go, just customize an environment that suits your needs…All those methods can help you to build a strong foundation, but after a while you develop your own style.

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