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Analyzing the matrix of urgency versus importance

Posted by Shivali Anand

September 30, 2021    |     4-minute read (785 words)

When you're operating a business, everything seems to be important at all times. You are busy putting out fires and dealing with last-minute demands, but this prevents you from focusing on the significant issues that may help you develop the business. Remember, though, that being a leader might entail prioritizing, and if you're looking for inspiration, turn to another leader's perspective.

"I have two kinds of problems: the urgent and the important. The urgent are not important, and the important are never urgent," U.S. President Dwight Eisenhower stated in a speech in 1954. The president used this technique, now known as the Eisenhower Principle, to keep his priorities clear, and it may help businesses do the same.

There are four choices in the matrix:

Urgent and important: Tasks that must be completed right now. These are generally crisis circumstances, such as dealing with a significant consumer complaint. After you've implemented your own matrix, you should be able to decrease these costs by planning ahead.

Important but not urgent: Tasks that must be completed but can be postponed. For example, developing a marketing plan for the next quarter is vital but not urgent. Most entrepreneurs should devote most of their attention to this area.

Urgency vs. importance: Tasks that can be outsourced to others. For example, if you are constantly interrupted by inquiries from your inbound sales agency, you may assign those questions to a staff member.

Things that are not important or urgent: Things that can be entirely removed. Many entrepreneurs believe that this category consumes the majority of their time and can be simply eliminated. This might include things like monitoring your own social media accounts or reading irrelevant magazine articles.

Check to see if you can tell the difference between urgent and important

When determining which of your duties are urgent vs. important, you may become confused between the two phrases. Working quickly, according to Twitter and Square CEO Jack Dorsey, will not get the job done; instead, "it's concentration, it's prioritization." And learning how to prioritize your activities begins with distinguishing between the urgent and the significant.

Urgent tasks are ones that must be completed right now. If you don't deal with them straight away, something terrible will happen. However, important tasks are those that enable you to achieve your overall objectives. If you don't address them, you risk falling short of the goals outlined in your company plan or strategy program.

After going over your current work list and categorizing everything into one of the four categories listed, you may plan out your day to address how you'll reach your goals. Prioritize your most critical and urgent activities first, and then plan or assign the remaining items on your list.

Some business owners find it beneficial to set aside a specific amount of time each day to focus on their most critical tasks. These can be both urgent and non-urgent activities, as long as they are crucial. For example, every morning from 8 a.m. to 11 a.m., you might set aside time to focus solely on the tasks you've prioritized.

Each day, you'll be given new chores to do. Make sure to put them in one of the four categories, and be honest with yourself while doing so. If you come across a work that you believe is urgent, be sure you understand why. It might be delegated to one of your employees if it doesn't demand a significant amount of your time.

Dealing with pressing tasks too frequently may cause stress in entrepreneurs. This worry can spill over into other areas, resulting in a cascade of hasty decisions that stifle production. If you use a large part of your day reacting to urgent emergencies, you may find yourself needing to put out more rounds later as a result of the last-minute decisions you made and the duties you neglected to deal with your urgent concerns.

Are you unable to delegate? Examine why

Some business owners claim they cannot assign duties to employees or outside contractors, but if this is the case, it's important to look into why. Maybe you're wasting too much time on non-essential activities or haven't recruited the appropriate people for the proper jobs. Delegating won't be a problem if you have a solid team behind you, as long as you set clear goals and have a mechanism in place to keep you informed.

You'll also need to figure out how to say "no" to activities that aren't critical or urgent. Turning down chances might be a strange experience for an entrepreneur, but if they aren't going to help you achieve your goals, saying "no" can free up valuable time you could be investing elsewhere.

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