It’s so easy to get caught up in the demands of the moment, and before we know it, our time has been filled with tasks that are urgent but nowhere near all that important, especially to our life goals.
Think about the things that you really want to do, the things that would enrich your life exponentially, but you don’t have the time for.
Dwight D. Eisenhower invented the famous Eisenhower principle, which Steven Covey re-introduced as the Urgent/Important Matrix that most people are now familiar with.
Basically, we spend a great deal of time on urgent tasks, not leaving time for the important tasks. But it’s the important tasks that will help us develop, help us grow, and contribute to our happiness.
If you’re not familiar with this principle and exercise, or maybe you are but haven’t applied it, give it a go now and see if it helps.
Take a sheet of paper and section it into four.
Label each section with these Headings:
1. Urgent and Important
2. Important but not Urgent
3. Urgent but not Important
4. Not Urgent, not Important
Urgent and Important. These are necessary and you want to manage these.
Important but not Urgent. This is for your personal quality and growth, things you want to focus on.
Urgent but not Important. These can be deceptive so be careful here.
Not Urgent and not Important. These are time wasters and to be used only if you have time to waste.
So, let’s look at these and see how they would work in your everyday life.
Urgent and Important examples
Doing the work that pays the bills
You’re going to make time for these to make sure they get done because doing them is important, and doing them in a time-sensitive manner is vital. Make time for this and manage this time.
Important but not Urgent examples
Going to school or taking courses
Spending quality time with loved ones
These are the things that are vital to your growth, to your happiness, to you. Focus on these and make time for these. Schedule them as necessary, and make sure you make the time for these things. This quadrant is the first thing that should be scheduled in your calendar (except after your job).
Urgent but not Important examples
Committees and extracurricular activities (maybe!)
Friend’s crises (if a frequent occurrence)
Family crises (if a frequent occurrence)
Basically, anything that happens a lot, or impacts someone else but you. This is a tricky area and will take some thought on your part. But if the person that it impacts is not you, then it may be urgent for someone else, and not that important to you. Should you turn your back on someone in need? No, not at all! But you will need to be careful with this time, especially if it’s something that happens frequently with a particular person. Just watch this area. And make sure you have dedicated the time for the other two areas above first, and guard that time.
Not Urgent, not Important examples
Excessive tv watching
Time spent on other people’s dreams
This area is the time you spend on things that have no impact nor real contribution to your life. Watching your favourite tv shows can be considered ‘down’ time, and I don’t mean cutting it out completely. The same with time you spend playing games. But if there are things you want to do with your life and you’re not doing them, but you ARE spending huge amounts of time in front of the screen, then reconsider how you’re spending your time. You’re not going to do those things you WANT to do, if you don’t actually make the time to do them.
There’s much you work you can put into working out these quadrants and even more work into making sure you’re scheduling the right time for them, but this gives you the basic idea of how the Urgent/Important Matrix works.
Give it a try and see what it does for you.
As always, I’d love to hear how you do with this! Comment below, or send me an email if you’d like a bit of guidance with this.
Feature photo courtesy of Unsplash/Gaelle Marcel