When classifying our daily activities, it is vital to make a difference between the ones which are urgent and those which are important. You must analyse what tasks need to be immediately addressed and which ones are essential to reach your goals. Both the effective planning of your schedule and your overall personal productivity will depend on this first analysis.
How to distinguish between urgent and important tasks
A task may be urgent and important at the same time, but in most cases, we can tell them apart.
- Urgent tasks are those ones that require immediate attention. Thanks to them we can test our ability to react and respond.
- Important tasks are those that lead us to goal achievement, whether it is in the short or the long term.
There are different ways of measuring your tasks’ urgency and importance. Stephen Covey’s Urgent/Important Matrix is a good method to analyse where these activities fit in your to-do list so that you can better plan your schedule:
Depending on where we place each task, we must perform a different action:
- If a task is both urgent and important, focus on it and do it as soon as possible.
- If a task is not urgent but important, plan it in a way that you can address it calmly and with plenty of time.
- If a task is urgent but not important, try to delegate it to someone else.
- If a task is neither urgent nor important, just eliminate it or place it at the very end of your priorities list.
Organization is the key
We waste most of our time performing urgent tasks and, more than often, we default to dealing with them first while forgetting about the really important ones. Learning how to organise your work and manage your time properly at all times is the key to focus your efforts on your top priorities.
Translation by Susana Castro