What should you do next?
What’s urgent vs what’s important!
Some things are important and others are trivial, right? Well sort of. It’s not a simple binary division but presumably you’d agree that “things” are on a continuum between “If I don’t do this the world will end” (let’s give that a score of 10) and “If I don’t do this no one will notice and nothing will change”. (We’ll give that one a score of zero.)
Okay so far? 😉
You children’s birthdays might score a nine, say, but the 36th birthday of some second cousin you’ve barely heard of and don’t even like might have a score of two. (One point because you’re a nice person and the other point because you share a rich relation and you want to stay in her Will, right?)
You can also assign a score of between zero and 10 for urgency. Some things have to be done NOW! Others things can wait almost forever.
Now here’s the tricky-but-obvious-when-you-think-about-it bit… Those measures are independent of each other – they’re not the same thing. If you put those two ideas together on a graph you get something like this – I’ve put Importance on the vertical axis, and Urgency on the horizontal one.Here’s a challenging thought. Whenever we consider each task that lands on our desk, we tend to assume urgent and important are the same thing. They’re not. Some things just feel important because their deadline is tomorrow. Obviously if two things have the same score for Importance, you should go for the most urgent – but the truth is, very few things area all as important as each other. We just think they are because we panic!
urgency isn’t the key thing you should use to decide what to do next – Importance is. To make the conversation a bit easier, let’s label the four parts of the diagram above. I’ve deliberately drawn the diagram in a different way so be careful here!
Quadrant one is stuff that’s both urgent and important. If we’re not careful that’s where we think all our work is and where any new task goes. But be honest, you’re not running the world.
Quadrant two is stuff that’s urgent but not important. In other words that’s stuff that’s trivial but which is due tomorrow.
In the bottom right hand corner is Quadrant three – where things are important but not (yet) urgent. Finally the last Quadrant (Quadrant four) is where things go that are neither important nor urgent.
So what do you do first? Print off the Urgent-vs-Important graph (or just draw it yourself, it’s probably quick!) before you play the video in the next section…