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Urgent or Important?

Updated: Apr 21, 2020

When are you most ‘full of beans’? In the morning, afternoon or evening? By diarising your daily tasks according to your anticipated level of energy during a day and how much energy will be required to do each task is a helpful scheduling method used by effective time managers. Planning to do your most important work when your energy is at its highest is smart planning. In this context, important relates to achievement of your goals. But how do you know which of your goals is most important?

The Urgent v Important Matrix

This simple, practical and effective tool for prioritizing your to-do list was developed by John Whitmore. It asks you to categorise your tasks based on their level of urgency and importance in relation to achievement of your goals. It's sometimes referred to as the 'Eisenhower Matrix' or 'Eisenhower Decision Matrix' and is one of the easiest time management strategies to implement. Our facilitators often call them the four D's - do, diarise, delegate & delete.

No matter what heading you give each quadrant tasks relating to your most strategic goals will always appear in the top two quadrants because they are important & when their deadline looms they become urgent.

DO - important and urgent

Tasks on critical matters, pressing issues and deadline driven tasks fit in quadrant 1 – Important and urgent. These are the tasks to focus your energies and time.

DIARISE - important but not urgent

Plan to spend time on tasks in this quadrant. Allocate time for working on these tasks at least once during the week. Tasks relating to prevention, wellbeing, relationship building, new opportunities and planning begin in quadrant 2 – Important, not urgent (yet).

DELEGATE - urgent but not important

These are urgent tasks but they are not important to you achieving your goals. These are tasks you could delegate. Use them to develop your team members where appropriate e.g. preparing monthly reports, chairing meetings & emailing responses to queries. Daily tasks e.g. phone calls, emails, meetings, reporting, interruptions belong in quadrant 3.

DELETE - not important & not urgent

Quadrant 4 is home to trivia, time wasters, incoming phone calls, checking your socials. You know when you are wasting time….try to be aware and keep it to a minimum. If you are aiming high…eliminate these altogether.

Listen to our podcast "Leadership on the Run" episode 8 on Managing Your Time.

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