Kevins Values System Decision Matrix

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See also Time Management, How I work and Life Plan.


"It's not hard to make decisions once you know what your values are." - Roy E. Disney

I have created a modified Covey’s 4 Quadrants or "Eisenhower Decision Matrix" which I call "My Values Filter".

See further First Things First a book written by Stephen Covey, A. Roger Merrill, and Rebecca R. Merrill.

"Commit your work to the Lord, and your plans will be established." - Proverbs 16:3 ESV

"The plans of the diligent lead surely to abundance, but everyone who is hasty comes only to poverty." - Proverbs 21:5 ESV

My values system decision matrix filter

It was derived from several sources both divine and inspirational. First the inspirational:

These are the main books I derived my organization skills from the following books:

The values portion of my methodology comes from many sources but what got me thinking about it originally is coming through the Franklin-Covey time management course I took back in 1997. Covey has this concept of a mission statement and values. I dropped the mission statement as being too simplistic in today's complicated and plural demand society. But I did like his idea of values. Even though it’s tired and worn out phrase it’s still cultural and true today. I just personalize it more.

Priorities, priorities!

Ok so you have seen the standard priorities matrix, urgent, non-urgent, etc…

Which is where you get the Covey A1, B1, C6 and D9 priority scheme they use in the planners.

Eisenhower is quoted as saying "What is important is seldom urgent and what is urgent is seldom important," and that sums up the concept of the priority matrix. This so-called "Eisenhower Principle" is said to be how U.S. President Dwight D. Eisenhower organized his tasks. As a result, the matrix is sometimes called the Eisenhower Matrix. I think that’s where Covey got it from originally.

If you want the Covey quadrant matrix planner system for iOS or iPad look for an app called Opus Domini.

I just took that matrix to a different level with the main assumption that there is no humanly way I can accomplish all that I would like to do in this moment or in this lifetime. So to that end I now place all perceived tasks or objectives in the following filter quadrants which I designed and is a slight rip-off of Ken Blanchard's Quadrants. Ken Blanchard being the author of "The One Minute Manager".

I still apply the classic priority chart from Covey above but only after first running it through the quadrant filter above.

Filter Quadrants

Quadrant filter.png

Two columns – Chinese menu A and B. Required or Your Decision.

Required means someone else told you that you need to do this or you realize that someone needs this done even if it does not fit your desires or values system per se (for relationships: professional or personal). It isn’t based on your values and it often isn’t even based on your goals, desires or sometime even reality. You just have to perform this task as best you can so end of the story. It’s the necessary. It could be to complete your tax return or walk the dog. It’s not negotiable.

Your decisions are just that, they are tied to your values and needs and are quite negotiable and can even be ignored at varying consequences.

Two rows: Required: Urgent and Non-Urgent.

Remember that tasks in these two quadrants are required!

Ok these are the classic definitions for the most part with some attenuation. Urgent is self-explanatory but to use the priority matrix: This is the metaphorical "swallowing the live frog" quadrant. Do the thing we least like to do first each day but ONLY if it’s truly urgent (you have to decide what that means) otherwise we move it to "Non-Urgent" quadrant.

Non-urgent: Ahh here is the usual trap. You know you must do this thing but it’s not necessarily urgent nor does it have a due date either. Remember we are still in the Required column so you can’t get rid of this task. This is where I do resource and time analysis planning and give it at least some kind of working due date. In reality if it truly is required there is a date somewhere you just have to figure out what it is either by analyses, effort or dependency analysis (what is the consequence if that isn’t done in a certain time).

Two rows: Decisions: Values and Fun and Fulfilling.

Remember my system is to filter and remove the unnecessary tasks to make time for other that are necessary. My system will help (particularly left brainers) arrive at the “needed” or “unneeded” decision. So for that reason mine is a decision matrix not a priority matrix. Unlike Covey I am not assuming everything must get done here, even eventually. If it is required than it should be above but if not required maybe we won't add this task. My view: the dreamed task is the wont ever get done task. If you love it put a due date on it!

Fun and fulfilling: Ahh this is my favorite place. For many this is a the time waster quadrant. For some it is playing on Facebook all day and for others it's reading a book. In any case it’s your unwind time, the time to refresh your mind and eases stress on your body and yes it is needed time. "All work and no play make Jack a dull boy" and all that. This quadrant while necessary needs a time budget. Two hours a day or whatever you deem a sufficient time allowance for this category. Once you have exhausted that time that's it for today this category is busted.

Finally the major part I have adapted are "My Values Filter". This is where it is not required by some other person or entity. I could blow this off or I could just drop the task altogether but somewhere in the past (if you’re a list keeper like me) this seemed important at the time. It’s time to re-evaluate that based on your life values. I try to keep my life values at between 3-6 major headings: Family, Faith, Health, Career, Quality of Life and Education/Self Improvement or something like that. Covey is big on this part. I am still working out the math I use to arrive at exactly how I prioritize these tasks (weighted values come to mind) but it is important that these tasks did NOT fit the other three quadrants first as we now apply a filter to get RID of other tasks that cost more than they add to the value I appreciate.

Finally I set hard due dates when I would like to accomplish based on anticipated effort, resources, availability and time constraints.

I still apply the classic priority chart from Covey above but only after first running it through the quadrant filter above.