First Things First: Learn How to Distinguish Between Urgent vs. Important

In our daily lives, we are often forced to manage urgent and important tasks simultaneously that usually results to things getting out of control. Many people believe that urgent and important mean the same thing, or to put it more accurately, they don’t know the difference between the two. Knowing the difference between what is urgent versus what is important can help you become more productive, efficient, and organised.

So, how do you determine what is urgent and what is important? After you decide which is which, how do you schedule it out?

“What is important is seldom urgent, and what is urgent is seldom important.” – Dwight D. Eisenhower

There is much to be learned about productivity and time management from the life of Dwight Eisenhower. He can be considered as a master organiser, with his historic roles as a five-star general during the WWII and as the 34th President of the United States. The figure below is the Eisenhower Box, a straightforward decision-making tool that you can use.

Urgent tasks demand your immediate action or attention right now and have deadlines. Important tasks tend to bring you closer to your long-term goals, these can also be things that you personally find important (like family and exercise).

– Urgent and Important (Quadrant 2) – tasks you will do immediately. Specific examples of activities under this quadrant are emergencies, tasks with meaningful deadlines, tax deadlines, etc.

– Important, but not urgent (Quadrant 1) – tasks you will schedule to do later. Examples are saving for the future, daily exercise, planning, rewarding hobbies, car and home maintenance, etc.

– Urgent, but not important (Quadrant 4) – tasks you can delegate to someone else. These can be phone calls, most emails (some emails could be urgent and important), recommendation letters, favors from colleagues, etc – the types of activities under this quadrant are more important to others, not you.

– Neither urgent nor important (Quadrant 3) – tasks you can do later or eliminate. These are all the time-wasting activities such as browsing social media (Facebook, Twitter, etc), watching your favorite TV shows, surfing the web, gambling, etc.

Successful people, even if they have the most demanding jobs, still schedule the “Important but not urgent” tasks into their day like spending time with their family and friends or exercising. Using the Eisenhower Box, you can look at the tasks that you’re neglecting and the tasks that you can eliminate.

Owner of PCR Accounting & Advisory, Peter Marmara-Stewart is a top-tier accountant and financial advisor dedicated to helping clients reach their business goals and achieve financial freedom. Peter is highly regarded for his client-focused approach and entrepreneurial spirit, catering to a diverse range of professionals across a wide scope of industries all across the country. Peter’s expertise can help you plan effectively, set goals, maximise profits and protect your assets. Get in touch today on (03) 9847 7516.