Urgent (adj) compelling or requiring immediate action or attention.
Important (adj) of great significance or consequence.
The most important concept that should be taught to young leaders, corporate execs, and anybody that wants to accomplish anything of significance in their lives is to finish tasks in the order of their importance. The problem is that many people confuse the urgent with the important.
Dwight D. Eisenhower said, “What is important is seldom urgent and what is urgent is seldom important.”
Urgent things demand our attention immediately, but they may not be important in the overall scheme of our lives. That’s why the really important things, the things that will add value to our lives over the long term can get put off indefinitely; because they are not screaming for our attention.
When making your to-do list, prioritize your tasks according to this standard:
1. Urgent and important
2. Non-urgent but important
3. Urgent and non-important
4. Non-urgent and non-important
Completing your urgent and important tasks first is a no-brainer.
The hardest thing, will be deciding whether to handle the number 2 or the number 3 items first. When something urgent comes hurtling towards you, arms flailing, it will command you to take care of it right now Now NOW! It takes discipline, but before addressing this incredibly urgent and demanding task, ask yourself “is this important?” A question I ask myself is “will this matter five years from now?
If this urgent task that requires your immediate attention is something that can be delegated, rescheduled, or even ignored without causing you long-term harm, then ditch it. Take care of what’s important first.
Then the things that are neither urgent nor important, you work on those when you have absolutely nothing else to do. Watching television goes in that category.
What are some urgent tasks that seem to always pop up in your life?