It is crucial to identify the difference between important and urgent events and to deal with them in the correct order.
Failure to understand the difference between important and urgent will inevitably lead to a lot of time being wasted, and severe loss of opportunity for all concerned.
Volumes of learned prose and pretty diagrams are available in Mr Google’s Great Store of Wisdom, if you put ‘important urgent’ into your computer’s browser. I wouldn’t want to infringe any copyright laws, so you can look them up for yourselves; but essentially, the pecking order is thus:
Important and urgent
You must do these things straight away. They’re either unforeseen events, or the result of poor planning. Examples might be to complete a presentation for a meeting with a key client this morning, that you’ve forgotten to do, or been unable to do until just beforehand. Another example might be..the building’s on fire!
Important but not urgent
These things must be done, but not necessarily right now. Plan your time, and diarise when you want to do these things. If you’re employed in a sales position for example, making ten prospecting calls per day might be included in this list.
Not important, but urgent
This involves dealing with time-limited events, but ones that are not core to your own personal goals. These things can be delegated to someone else. Renewing the expiring water-cooler contract might be an example. Sure, it needs to be done, but not by you!
Neither important nor urgent
Well, what do you think? How much of your valuable time should you spend on this category of events? Reading the online newspaper – hardly a must-do thing, eh? As an exercise (important, but not urgent), observe (discretely!) your colleagues and see how much of their days ‘work’ is spent doing things that are neither important nor urgent.
How to be incredibly successful in work and in life in general
- Plan your time carefully – long term plans, short term plans – and work through them, sticking to the plan.
- Calmly work through the important things in order – most important things first – until they are done. Then you can do some of the less important things if you still have some time.
- Deal with the crises when they arise (they always will, sooner or later!)
- Delegate the things which are urgent but unimportant (to you)
- Don’t waste time doing things which are neither important nor urgent