There are different tools to help you prioritise your tasks. In this section we present you the Urgent-Important Matrix. This matrix is a simple but effective tool for prioritising your tasks based on the level of urgency and importance of each task. It gives you a rapid view of what activities you should focus on and of what activities you should ignore. Developing this matrix doesn’t require special training, just time to think and plan.
The template is very simple – 4 quadrants reflecting the degree of urgency and importance of individual tasks
Q1 - URGENT / IMPORTANT
Do it right away
Emergencies that you couldn’t predict or those that you’ve left until the last minute
Items from Q2 that weren’t dealt with on time
By developing systems and plans, you can make many of these tasks more efficient or even eliminate them outright
Examples: items from Q2, deadlines, firefighting, etc.
Q2 - NOT URGENT / IMPORTANT
Activities that help you achieve your long and mid-term goals and objectives
Because they aren’t pressing, we put them on hold
They can become Q1 and become Urgent
You should invest more time in this quadrant to help prevent and eliminate many of the urgent activities of Q1
Examples: work that contributes towards goals, relationships, education, training, creating budgets and saving plans, etc.
Q3 - URGENT / NOT IMPORTANT
Activities that drain your time and energy without contributing to longer term benefits
You should renegotiate deadlines and delegate where possible
Examples: requests that don’t really contribute to your objectives, ineffective tasks, regular meetings and reports, phone calls, most emails, etc.
Q4 - NOT URGENT / NOT IMPORTANT
Don’t waste your time
Activities that distract you from doing things that matter
Reduce or completely avoid spending time, effort, and resources
Ideally: delete them
Examples: personal phone calls, social media usage, anything making you procrastinate Q2
Understanding the difference between urgent and important is crucial:
- They require immediate attention
- Consequences of not doing them: immediate negative consequences
- They contribute to our long-term objective
- Consequences of not doing them: they accumulate over a longer period and can then become a crisis