Most people use urgent and important interchangeably because we are busy. As I have mentioned in a previous article, busyness is not productivity. Words have power and these two words have distinct meanings. Below are their respective definitions:
Urgent – (of a state or situation) requiring immediate action or attention
Important – of great significance or value, likely to have
As you have seen these two words have different meanings. What is important is not what is urgent; but, what is urgent is always what is important.
In the below diagram from
Here is the breakdown:
- If it is urgent and important then do it now! Examples are these two are crises and emergencies. A water main break in your house is both urgent and important.
- If it is urgent but not important then delegate Examples of delegating to others are errands. Let me break it down. You are a blogger who knows that social media strategy is critical towards spreading your blog’s content; however, scheduling all of your social media channels consumes a lot of time. Therefore, you save money and delegate this task a social media manager.
- If it is not urgent but important then decide how you want to handle this. A way of deciding is to ask yourself whether or not to pursue this goal is ‘ will this goal put me in a greater long-term position?’ If the answer is yes then do it. Conversely, if the answer is no then drop it.
- If it is not urgent and not important then delete it. Eliminate the mental, emotional and physical clutter that drains you. Removing the non-urgent, unimportant tasks give me more time and energy towards things that matter.
Knowing the difference between urgent and important and how to act upon these two situations will help you create, capitalize and maintain positive change in your personal and professional lives.