Urgent vs Important

Even the best time management schemes and life plans can come to grief if you don’t have the habit of discriminating between the urgent and the important.


• Surprisingly few tasks and both urgent and important.

• Urgent tasks assume importance simply because they seem to demand immediate action (e.g. A colleague comes into your office and says he must have certain work typed by the end of the morning; if he is good at selling himself, you tend to oblige, and put more important but less urgent tasks on the back burner).

• Since most people confront ‘urgent’ problems nearly all the time – a telephone call, someone walking into the office with a query, long term goals are consistently put aside for the sake of the ‘urgent’.

• Many important tasks only get done when they become urgent as well.


How to recognize priorities?

The solution is to develop a sixth sense for assessing whether tasks are important or urgent: you need to be capable of judging their status instantly, so that outside requests can be rejected or undertaken on the spot.


A useful technique in planning is an “Urgent / Important Matrix”, as shown below.




Looking at the above example Urgent / Important Matrix which your own matrix should not be very different from, ask yourself and answer honestly in which quadrant do you currently spend most your time in?


Quadrant # 1 : If you spend most of your time in this quadrant, it means you are fire fighting all the time and need better planning


Quadrant # 3 : If you spend most of your time in this quadrant, it means you are letting others control your time and you need to be more assertive and take more control of your time.


Quadrant # 4 : This quadrant is a complete waste of time.


To make the best use of your time you should be spending most of your time in Quadrant # 2


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