Dr Stephen Covey created and explained his groundbreaking concept in his book “The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People”, and it has helped ordinary people like us to understand the differentiation between urgent and important.
The concept is simple. Simplicity explains it all, as I have mentioned in my previous blog. Plans that you carry out are either important or not important and urgent or not urgent. Before showing you the way that this concept can be used, allow me to take a moment to define the terms. These may seem obvious, but I get a lot of questions about how to determine whether things are important or unimportant.
Urgent is one of the most dependable on individual of all concepts. Whether things are urgent often depends upon individual’s expectations. This depends upon setting expectations, personal management and a whole variety of other things that are discussed elsewhere. However, keep this in mind that you must always align your personal goals to this, as it can clearly help you prioritise the urgency level.
Not Urgent is easy to define. There is no deadline, and there is no penalty for not getting the task done today. Till now, you’ll know that categorizing things this way can be the most expensive mistake of all! As you most important goal may be unconsciously being thrown into this category.
Important is also easy enough to define. These are things that are definitely worth our time and need our attention. They need to get done, and will clearly impact the value of what’s in our goals.
Not Important is a little harder to define. My definition is that these are tasks that are meaningless and insignificant to do. They may be important at some level, but just not important that you do them.
Every task in your day can be ranked and categorized by using the boxes on this grid:
Urgent and Important: Top left consist of things that are both urgent and important. This doesn’t represent a Strategic Time Management problem, as these are things that need to get done immediately. They are important and because they are urgent they are going to get taken care of.
Urgent and Not Important: Bottom left consist of things that are urgent and need attention, but they are not important for you to do. “Not Important” means, they are meaningless and insignificant and do not belong in your day. They are urgent and call for attention, but not yours.
Not Urgent and Not Important: Bottom right finds us spending our time is on things that are neither urgent nor important. These things have somehow found their way into our day and we tend to work on them for the easy, and often fictitious, view of progress that crossing them off our list provides.
Not Urgent and Important: Top right is the key quadrant. In this box lie the key activities that we should be doing that will make a difference in our business. Unfortunately, we get to them last because we are driven by ‘The Tyranny of The Urgent’, and this box is where we need to spend more time.
I shared this to hopefully help you, who are struggling with time management. I hope that this will help you define your plans according to the quadrants 🙂