Is it Urgent?

Everyone at some time feels the pressure to do something that either they or someone else has deemed urgent. But is it urgent?

Some Background

In the posting Triage for Business Issues we looked at how we use our time with a diagram based on Stephen R. Covey’s book The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. The diagram has four quadrants as follows:

  1. Urgent and Important
  2. Not Urgent but Important
  3. Urgent but Not Important
  4. Not Urgent and Not Important

Amazingly many people manage to waste a lot of time in quadrant 4, the Not Important and Not Urgent quadrant, probably because it really requires very little effort. Let’s revisit this top but with a focus on the Urgent column.

In Quadrant 1 we have things that are both urgent and important. Critical deadlines at work and things like medical emergencies fall in this category. Essentially, there may be no getting around an item in this category. So, is it urgent? Yes and the fact it is also important tends to make it something that must be handled.

The category I want to focus on is number 3 The reason I want to do that is that it holds the items that fall into the “squeaky wheel” category that scream for our attention. Here is where we are faced with interruptions, phone calls and numerous other things that others tend to make urgent by being the squeaky wheel, but in reality are probably not important.

A Way to Consider It

In his booklet, Tyranny of the Urgent, Charles E. Hammons really points out how we can get distracted unless we are clear on what really matters. When we spend too much time in category 3 we are operating with a tyranny of the urgent mindset. Yet, if we take the time to examine what is on our various “to do” lists, we have the opportunity to gain clarity as to where we need to focus. That helps when we have said yes to the question “is it urgent?” but need to determine if it is important enough to move it from category 3, Urgent but Not Important, to category 1, Urgent and Important. When we plan our activities it should be clear that a business deadline imposed on us by our boss or customers is both urgent and important, while at the same time be able to resist making phone calls or answering emails that may be urgent but fail to meet the criteria for important.

So, the point of all this is to encourage you to intentionally examine your so-called priorities and be clear on what really is a priority. Priority will fall mainly into Category 1 of both Urgent and Important or category 2 of being Not Urgent but Important. Incidentally, category 2 is perhaps the easiest to neglect, but it is perhaps the most critical to being productive. It is here that you plan, organize and prioritize.

How successful are you at doing this? How well you do this can impact your attitude, effectiveness, efficiency, competence and relationships as well as affect your results.

If you want to know more, contact AimCFO – Contact

As always, your comments are welcomed.


Leave a Reply

Enter your email address:

Delivered by FeedBurner