<img height="1" width="1" style="display:none" src="https://www.facebook.com/tr?id=349935452247528&amp;ev=PageView&amp;noscript=1">
Search
word-map-thumb

The Alternative Board Blog

Differentiating Between “Urgent” and “Important” Saves You Time

Jun. 29, 2018 | Posted by The Alternative Board
Urgency-vs-Importance

Urgent? Or important? Take a moment to look back on what you did today in your role as business owner or CEO. How much time was spent reacting to an urgent issue or crisis someone brought to you, which (according to them) demanded an immediate response? Alternatively, how much time did you spend working on an important project or strategic initiative that would move your company forward?

A business leader’s honest answer might be that he or she used up too much of their precious time putting out fires that, in the long run, have little or no bearing on the company’s strategic goals. The problem is, too many leaders see this as an essential part of their job. They assume that whatever they do during the work-day (and, often, well beyond the work-day) is, in and of itself, “important” because they’re doing it.

But as leadership and management experts from Stephen Covey to former President Dwight D. Eisenhower can attest, there’s a huge difference between “urgent” and “important.” Knowing that difference, and acting on it, can save you a great deal of time.

Adding Value

What constitutes an “urgent” situation? In many cases, urgency involves the phone ringing in your hand or a new text or email message that demands your attention. But after taking that call or responding to that text message, what do you have to show for the time spent? Often, very little of value has resulted from that particular activity.

Of course, “urgent” can also mean attending to tasks with a hard deadline. And the sense of urgency increases the closer you get to the deadline.

“Important” actions, on the other hand, rarely come across as time-sensitive. These activities relate to the company’s well-being and long-term growth—activities that, because they don’t appear urgent, can be put off time and again.

As Entrepreneur notes, important tasks “are those that, once done, will add significant value to your organization.” What have you done today to add value to your business and move things forward?

Get Your Team Involved

Quadrant 2 of Covey’s time-management matrix is a useful guide to what’s “important, but not urgent.” In a past TAB Blog post, we offered this approach to determining what’s of most importance and value to your company:

• Put your important tasks and projects on a spreadsheet.
• Distribute the spreadsheet to your leadership team and ask each of them to prioritize. (Don’t use a simple “rank 1 to 5” approach. Instead, give each executive 100 total votes to
allocate across the tasks as they see fit.)
• Collect and tally the results.

With this approach, a handful of priorities will rank significantly higher than the rest. This provides both business leaders and their teams a distinctive set of Quadrant 2 activities to focus on.

Delegate!

By and large, the “urgent” tasks coming across your desk every day can be handled by others on your team. Hard as it may be for some business and entrepreneurs-turned-CEOs, it’s vital to that you delegate these tasks as much as possible. Not only will this result in significant time savings for you, it also helps build confidence in your team and in its problem-solving capabilities. This way, when the next “urgent” crisis arises, they may elect to address it themselves, without pestering you.

Differentiating between “urgent” and “important” may, at times, feel like a subjective process. Generally speaking, however, most business leaders know in their gut that what they’re doing at any given moment falls into one or the other category. Taking steps to focus on what’s genuinely important will prove to be the most beneficial to your organization.

How do you compare to other business leaders when it comes to productivity and time management? View our latest infographic from the TAB Business Pulse Survey on Productivity.

Read our 19 Reasons You Need a Business Owner Advisory Board

DOWNLOAD

Written by The Alternative Board

Related posts

Tips on Achieving the Elusive Work-Life Balance
Apr. 16, 2021 | Posted by The Alternative Board
Among CEOs and business leaders, the search for the best work-life balance has been going on for years. Only recently has the crucial importance of this balance become crystal-clear for everyone....
Time-Saving Tips for Hyper-Busy Business Leaders
Apr. 13, 2021 | Posted by The Alternative Board
There may be only 24 hours in a day, but with effective time management, business leaders can get a lot done within that limited timeframe. The key is taking steps to eliminate clutter and...
How to Build Employee Culture with a Remote Team or Virtual Office
Apr. 6, 2021 | Posted by Phil Spensieri
Whether your staff have been working from home for the past year or rotating between home and the office, there is no doubt that for most of us there has been a change in our working environment....
4 Tips for Maximizing Time, Your Most Valuable Resource
Mar. 25, 2021 | Posted by The Alternative Board
Some CEOs and business leaders have an innate ability to manage their time efficiently. But many others have to learn new habits of time-management and work hard to reinforce these habits in their...
10 Ways Business Leaders Get More Time In Their Day
Mar. 12, 2021 | Posted by The Alternative Board
Are you spending too much time managing your business and not enough time building it?  You are not alone. This is a systemic problem, and most entrepreneurs succumb to the daily grind, leaving...
Tips on Going Paperless in 2021
Mar. 11, 2021 | Posted by The Alternative Board
Businesses seeking to economize, as the world slowly recovers from the COVID-19 pandemic, should take a close look at going completely paperless in the workplace. Is this really a worthwhile goal?...
How to Build Operational Efficiency in 3 Simple Ways
Mar. 2, 2021 | Posted by Phil Spensieri
In order to grow your business, you may have been told to work on your business and not in your business. While this is true and something, I encourage my clients to do, it’s important to remember...
Tips on Using Artificial Intelligence to Boost Productivity and Profitability
Feb. 16, 2021 | Posted by The Alternative Board
For years now, large-scale businesses have been employing Artificial Intelligence (AI) to help drive productivity and high performance. This same technological advantage is available to small...
14 Ways Business Leaders Can Maintain a Positive Mindset During Stressful Times
Feb. 12, 2021 | Posted by The Alternative Board
To be successful, you need to have a positive mindset. But how do you keep your spirits up when you are a whole year into a pandemic?  COVID-19 has dramatically changed the way we live and work....
3 Tips on Vetting Your Most Promising Job Candidates
Feb. 4, 2021 | Posted by The Alternative Board
It would be nice to think that every applicant to a job opening at your business is always telling the truth in their resumes, during their interviews, and throughout the hiring process....