Urgent or Important?
How often do you ask yourself if this is important, or just urgent? Forget about just efficiency alone, are you even being effective with your use of time?
34th President, Eisenhower, was a master of productivity. And today we are going to lean on him a little. The Eisenhower matrix helps you to think about your priorities and determine which of your activities are important, and which are, frankly, distractions.
Emails. Meetings. Phone calls. Catchups. Social media.
These all have something in common. They are often urgent, but trivial. These are not the big thing that help us grow our business and move us forward. They are not effective uses of our time!
I want to ask you to do something that may be a little tough. Look back at last week. What did you accomplish? What did you mark off your to-do list? Was it urgent tasks that don’t really leave you in a place different than you were the week before?
To recap, urgent tasks are tasks that have to be dealt with immediately. Like I said, these are things like phone calls, tasks with impending deadlines, and situations where you have to respond quickly.
And then there are the important tasks. These contribute to long-term missions and goals.
These are things like that book you want to write, the retailer you want to approach and the magazine you want to get published in.
The problem is that important tasks usually get trumped by urgent tasks. So when you have a limited amount of time in your day, how do you make sure to get to the important tasks?
And here’s where Eisenhower comes in. He developed this matrix to help you get shit done in an effective way!
It’s pretty obvious the not urgent, not important stuff is a time waster and should be eliminated. And clearly the urgent AND important box should be taken care of right away.
Here’s where things get tricky. Of the two remaining boxes, which comes first? Most of us default to urgent and not important, but that means important things are not getting done!
Truth bomb. Urgent tasks will always be there. And they will always continue to compile. No matter how hard you grind.
How many times have you said ‘I know it’s important but I just don’t have time right now.’
“Time is a created thing. To say ‘I don’t have time,’ is like saying, ‘I don’t want to.’” -
So let’s play a little trick on your brain to make sure those important tasks GET DONE. Put a deadline on them.
Think about it. Paying your rent has an absolute deadline. So we feel the urgency as the first of the month creeps up. However, going to the gym… no deadline. So we put it off.
Usually important things are more like projects since they have many parts. It may be helpful to break those down and give the subtasks deadlines.
Now you may be wondering, well self-imposed deadlines aren’t real, are they? So I urge you to make it public! Share with friends to create accountability! Or if you are part of the GATHER, share there. You can also set up a reward or punishment system. And learn to use a To-Do app with alarms and reminders.
Yes, this is also actual work. And it will take discipline and time to learn to use it. But I promise you, over time you will find this alleviates stress as you can actually witness yourself and your business growing.
Urgent tasks can fills your day, week, month or life if you let them. Instead focus on accomplishing important things.