Time Management: Operating Under Urgency or Importance?

Time Management

The tasks we complete on a day to day basis can fall into two main categories: urgent and important.  You may complete a task because it is urgent: it needs your attention now before you complete anything else. These could be crises, pressing problems, or projects you must complete on a deadline. These kinds of tasks could be important as well, don’t get me wrong, but the reason they are urgent is because you have to see to them now. An important task is one that is long term such as planning, preparation, prevention, or relationship building and you aren’t necessarily under a crunch to complete it.

Many of us end up putting off important tasks until they can no longer go undone, which then turns them into urgent tasks.  You procrastinators in particular may fall into this trap of urgency.  But procrastinators beware… it is a nasty cycle that feeds itself.  The more you put off, the more urgent matters you eventually have to deal with and with that comes a rising level of stress and feeling of being out of control.

The solution? Focus on those important tasks before they turn into urgent tasks.  Make to-do lists.  Look long term. Take the time to focus on what’s important and save yourself and your business the stress in the end. You certainly don’t want to turn into an urgency addict (i.e. you get to the point where you thrive on the adrenaline of all the fires you put out every day).

Operating under urgency can be destructive.  You lose sight of the long term because you are so focused on the short term or completing tasks that have to be done now.  Without that long term vision and considerable planning and preparation for the future (all important but not urgent tasks) you could certainly be creating a spell for disaster for your business, or even setting up your business for failure.

Just think of it.  All of those important tasks you wish you could do but can’t because you have more urgent matters to tend to? Stop the cycle and focus on your preparation, prevention, and planning strategies before it’s too late.

Inspiration for this blog post was pulled from First Things First by Stephen R. Covey, author of The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People.  Truly a must read!