Leading behavioursPeople & Management

Managing time: What’s important, what’s just urgent

The Urgent vs Important grid for managing time

Good time management requires thinking clearly about whether activities are important or just urgent, or indeed neither. Stephen Covey in his book The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People suggested we utilise the following simple two by two grid to inform ourselves as we prioritise our activities.

Is this activity urgent and/or important?

urgent not urgent
important 1 – DO NOW
Check that these really are important as urgent stuff can look important.  If they genuinely are important do them now in order by their relative importance.
2 – BLOCK OUT PRIORITY TIME AND SPACE
These tasks are critical to your success so reserve blocks of time in your diary to do these. FInd a way of ensuring you are not distracted other people during this time and don’t look at emails!
not important 3 – REJECT AND EXPLAIN
Make sure you’re not just being passed the monkey.  (Read more here) Avoid these tasks by quickly and sensitively saying No!  Saying No is the most important skill in time management!
4 – RESIST AND CEASE
Check that these are not simply comfortable distractions.  Minimise them or cease them altogether unless they have a value in enabling you to escape, or in building your platform for future success.  In which case they are actually important.  But take care not to be too easy on yourself!