Are Covey’s quadrants correlated?

I was reading a statistical article the other day that used the word “important” when I thought the author should have said “urgent.” Since I was in a statistical frame of mind, I wondered whether importance and urgency are positively or negatively correlated.

Stephen Covey is known for his four quadrant diagram and his advice that we should spend as much time as we can in quadrant 2, working on things that are important but not urgent.

The four-quadrant matrix for importance and urgency.

Are urgent tasks more likely, less likely, or equally likely to be important? In statistical jargon, are they positively correlated, negatively correlated, or uncorrelated?

I believe Covey’s assumption is that urgency is negatively correlated with importance, that is, urgent tasks are less likely to be important. That’s probably true of life in general, but there¬†are contexts where the correlation is reversed. In the paper that prompted this musing, I believe urgency and importance were positively correlated.

In what areas of life are urgency and importance most positively correlated? Most negatively correlated?

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