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Urgency vs. Importance

Hi there
It’s been an interesting few weeks for me, not so much from a client perspective as from a business development and training aspect.  At the Icehouse Owner Manager Programme I am doing at the moment, I was introduced to an interesting matrix I thought I would share with you.

In our increasingly busy lives, it becomes vital to focus on doing the right things while eliminating/delegating the wrong things.  This is best shown on the Urgency vs. Importance matrix:

Area 1
These tasks should be avoided as much as possible.  They are distractions from what is both urgent and important, and working in this area is counter-productive.  Answering private emails, reading non-work related or personal development material, personal phone calls, coffee/water cooler breaks all fit in this area.

Area 2
Funnily enough, this tends to be the area most of us work in.  What is urgent tends to get our attention and we focus on it until we make it go away.  These are typically those unplanned interruptions, such as phone calls, people at your door, those jobs that have been sitting on your desk that you know you should have done sooner and although not important the deadline makes them urgent.  We are not at our most effective when we are working in this area.

Area 3
This is our most effective area.  When we are working here, we are ensuring we have prioritised our tasks allowing for the importance of the tasks and addressing them each in terms of urgency.  This is the Nirvana area of time management.  The aim is to spend as much time working in this area as possible.

Area 4
This tends to be the area in which we spend the least time.  Urgency tends to be the driving force in our actions, and we tend towards trivial tasks.  The reason this area is so important is that typically, strategic planning and development occurs in this zone.  It is where you move away from the coal face of your workplace and plan where you want to take the business.  Many people don’t make the time to devote efforts in this area.

So when you next look at your in tray, desk, briefcase or inbox, will you think about where your next task would be classified? 

 Until next time.


  • Guest
    Adrian Thursday, 02 June 2011

    Lincoln - you should have attended the workshops your colleagues at WHK provided - you could have been introduced to this matrix many years ago...

    Adrian - original thought is pretty rare, many organizations are rolling out theory inherited or borrowed from previous generations. I'm sure WHK isn't alone.

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