Important and Urgent
These are tasks which MUST be done, such as deadline-driven projects, reports, and meetings, crises, and problems that must be immediately addressed. Examples are the system goes down or you get a call from school saying that your child broke his arm on the playground. Therefore, these things are a top priority.
Important but not Urgent
These are activities such as planning, preparation, prevention, recreation and relationship-building. Examples include strategic planning, preparing for an important presentation, or needed recreation. These activities improve your productivity. The result is better health, improved performance, better relationships, and more balance.
Urgent but not Important
These activities include other people’s minor issues, unnecessary reports, and unimportant meetings, phone calls, and mail. They are often characterized by needless interruptions.
Not Urgent and Not Important
These activities include busywork, phone calls and mail from solicitors, and excessive TV watching or Internet surfing. These are often a waste of time.
4. How this tool helps to manage your time:
Here’s how you can use this tool to manage your time.
Since it’s both urgent and important, you need to address it immediately.
You want to spend more time in this quadrant, which will boost your productivity and improve your balance. So block out time on your calendar for these activities.
Try to manage or minimize these needless interruptions.
Since these are neither important nor urgent, avoid these activities altogether.
Consider how much time you’re spending in each of these quadrants. In order to make the best use of your time, try to spend less time in Quadrants C & D, since they aren’t important, and spend more time in Quadrant B. If you do, you’ll realize great gains in your productivity.
5. Self Application:
When something is urgent, I rush to do it. When something is important, I prioritize it. In our everyday lives, I am forced to manage urgency and importance simultaneously. Especially in the creative environment, important projects require time and mental loyalty to complete. The “urgent” matters that arise with clients and general life management threaten to interfere with my long-term objectives.
6. Coaching Application
Here are some great coaching questions to have your client ask themselves that can help them prioritize each item on their to-do list. The result will be less stress and more wellness. Important: “Does completing this lead towards the achievement of my goals?”
- “How does this serve me, others and the world around me?”
- “Is this an expression of who I am?”
- “Am I being true to myself?”
- “Does this affect my family, employment or health?”
- “Does this add joy to my life?”
We may choose at times to put our own needs aside, but we must do so consciously not habitually.
- “Will failing to complete this task in a timely manner result in: anyone getting hurt; a loss of business/profit; a performance penalty?”
- “Is the urgency more about my own anxiety than reality?”
- “Is my anxiety exacerbated by poor wellness practices, e.g. not enough sleep, to much caffeine?”
- “Am I clear about what other people expect?”
- “Have I set myself up by “over promising” and thereby increasing my chances of “under-delivering”?”
- “Am I personalizing something that is not personal?”
- “Am I trying to “please” others?”
- “Who is setting the dead line and can it wait?”
- ”Can someone else do the task?”
- Is it not a coach’s job is to remind people that they do have choices?
- As a coach can’t we help our client distinguish what is a realistic fear or concern, and what is an irrational, unrealistic fear?
- How can we help our clients find within themselves the courage to set boundaries and take charge of their own lives? What end up on the to-do list are items that enhance one’s life instead of just stressing it out.
Stephen Covey, A. Roger Merrill, Rebecca R. Merrill, First Things First: To Live, to Love, to Learn, to Leave a Legacy. New York: Simon and Schuster, 1994