A look at urgent vs important in Time Management Prioritisation
Multitasking is the order of the day. Everyday we juggle our work assignments, professional commitments, personal life, family needs and health issues. There is always a huge to-do list to attract out attention and obviously we cannot attend to every need that arises. So the things get done only when they become urgent leading to some things not ever happening and some reaching to the point where you can’t take care of them. One thing that everyone wants at this point is the skill of time management.
Most professionals find themselves in a tight spot when either they are making transitions or performing normal day-to-day tasks. There is so much on the plate that they often don’t find peace while honouring their professional commitments. What is a top priority and what can be taken care at a later stage, if such questions remain unanswered; it is hard to save yourself from being doomed. To handle such a situation, Stephen Covey introduced Urgent and Important matrix through his self-help book “First Things First” on time management. Covey stresses the need to prioritise the tasks to achieve maximum positive results. The biggest challenge a person faces is prioritising, distinguishing the things on the basis of what needs to be accomplished when i.e. knowing what is important and what is urgent.
Urgent Vs Important matrix, Covey not the first…
Covey although widely quoted is not the first to publish this idea. It is believed this idea is based on a speech by Eisenhower who said “The urgent is seldom important, and the important is seldom urgent.” this was first quoted by Ross A. Webber in his book “Time & Management” first published in 1972.
Urgent things require immediate attention and we all do respond to such tasks. Important things are significant and show the results a little later so these things require initiative and are often neglected at the expense of urgent things. You will surely not want everything to appear in your life as a crisis, so prioritising tasks as urgent and important goes a long way to strike a perfect balance. Content from RapidBI.com.
Urgent Vs Important, Four-quadrant Matrix
Covey proposes a four-quadrant matrix of urgency and importance that acts as a framework to organise daily tasks. This matrix has urgency levels on one axis and importance levels on other axis distinctly classifying tasks and allowing us to understand where we spend the bulk of our time.
Urgent and Important:
It forms the first quadrant of the matrix and is labelled as the quadrant of necessity. The tasks in this quadrant are the crisis situations where you have to quickly act, get into the right mode and perform the activities. It involves urgent professional and personal matters, emergency, lifetime opportunities and some disaster situations.
Important but not urgent:
Forming the second quadrant of the matrix, it is referred as the quadrant of quality and personal leadership. This should be your major focus area because it involves your day-to-day activities. Here you can plan ahead and prepare for the things to come. You can practice to achieve quality and work to prevent any problems. Your focus should be on relationship building and you should also not neglect recreation.
Not important but urgent:
The third quadrant is referred to as the quadrant of deception. The interruptions in your daily work like unimportant calls needs to be avoided. Certain distracting mails, meetings and popular activities usually give a feeling of urgency but are actually just time killers. They divert attention and take you away from your prime focus area. You can choose to delegate the tasks falling in this quadrant to other people.
Not important and not urgent:
The fourth quadrant is the one that actually imbalances the entire multi tasking scenario. Junk mails, irrelevant calls, messages, mindless TV viewing are complete time wasters and should be avoided as much as possible. The activities should not be confused with recreation as recreation helps in rejuvenation and fills you with positive energy.
Summary of Urgent Vs Important
This theory and matrix of Covey is applicable not only to professionals but for everyone handling day-to-day chores as time management can come handy at any point of life. You can be a student, a home-maker, a work from home entrepreneur or a business tycoon, time management is the key to achieve that great high from the work you do. You need to define objective of your life, set small goals and then analyse the time you are putting into achieving those goals. It is very important to understand what is immediate and what falls next in line.
You should not be a part of problem and believe me you are a problem, if you are unnecessarily waiting for crisis to happen i.e. important things to become urgent and then handle it. As Stephen Covey says, “True effectiveness requires balance.” So make a move now, be productive, use time management techniques and be a leader who envisions future.
Urgent & Important – what are you waiting for? do it!
Urgent & Not Important – urgent to who? delegate this – do not use your time on it!
Not Urgent & Important – plan to do this when best for you
Not Urgent & Not important – why is this task even being considered?