Priority Levels – Urgent vs Important

If there is only one “Top priority” setting for your tasks, you will soon find your dashboard / todo lists can turn into one big blur of “very urgent” tasks that have not been completed.

When you create a task or event you will see two priority levels on offer: Urgency and importance.

Allowing 2 settings, important vs urgent makes things a lot clearer and easier to get done.

Please note: You do NOT have to set a priority for either the urgent or important values.

You can use one, both or none

You can change them at any time

Below shows how the various settings will appear on your dashboard.

Why Urgent vs Important?

Stephen Covey’s Urgent vs Important matrix

Dr Stephen Covey is a world renowned teacher on organization and time management. For Covey the important vs urgent theory goes deeper than just getting stuff done. Covey stresses that we’ve become “addicted to urgency” at the expense of what is truly important.

urgvsIMP_normal

Covey’s framework aims to prioritize work that is aimed at long-term goals, versus tasks that appear to be urgent, but are in fact less important.

His Urgent vs Important 2 x 2 matrix shown right classifies tasks as urgent and non-urgent on one axis, and important or non-important on the other axis.

Quadrant 2 (see yellow cell – above) shows the tasks that are non-urgent but important. These are the ones Covey believes we are likely to neglect; but, should focus on to achieve true effectiveness

Background to the Urgent vs Important principle

While we do not subscribe to any one Time Management “ideology” eg David Allen’s Get Things Done – which admittedly has some great ideas – we did decide to follow the non-urgent vs important approach to setting priorities.

Alec Mackenzie and Pat Nickerson’s The Time Trap (1972) was the first to note the difference between importance and urgency.

This was refined and further championed by Covey in his famous book The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People (1984) and First Things First (1994) by Stephen Covey, A. Roger and Rebecca R. Merrill – from which the above matrix is taken.

Further reading

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/First_Things_First_%28book%29

With special thanks to Pamela Dodd & Doug Sundheim authors of “The 25 Best Time Management Tools & Techniques” (see here)

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