This Week in PCM : Urgent vs Important

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.


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Declare then Do!

12132015 Declare then Do

How do you do something different when you don’t know how to get started?

I know that when you see the title declare then do and you think it is the latest psychobabble. Well, it is not. I never serve psychobabble or popular psychology. My sole aim is to write about positive change leadership and management. I have been stuck before. This article is my lesson in how to get unstuck.

A colleague and I were selected for the headquarters’ leadership development program. Upon graduating, I returned to our agency and she served a detail at the headquarters. She detailed there for 3 months and then was offered a promotion at a different agency. I was frustrated because I was processing 70% of my section’s estimates making the same amount of money, whereas, she was promoted doing new and exciting work (for higher pay!). I asked her how she received her promotion. She went into detail telling me that she took a Management Analyst assignment instead of an Economist one while at the headquarters. That was seen as a high-profile assignment. Someone at her new agency inquired about her. That inquiry led to an interview which she aced receiving her promotion. Immediately I looked up the Management Analyst position and saw that project management was closely related. Although I had all of this information, I was stuck. I heard project management as a buzzword, but I knew absolutely nothing about this discipline.

How I Got Unstuck

Always start with the end in mind. You know what you want. Right now you just don’t know how to go about accomplishing what you want. Just writing down the end eliminates paralysis of analysis.

Work backwards from the end

Go step by step backwards all the way until you arrive at the beginning where you are. The middle tends to get murky. Use the end as a definitive point guiding you through the process.

Working in the public sector, there were job descriptions for everything. I researched the Management Analyst job description and saw that I needed 12 credit hours of management. Having an MBA qualified me for this position but I didn’t want to be minimally qualified. I surfed the Internet for cheap project management courses finding a great alternative. Then, I had my employer pay for it.

See which transferable skills can give you the competitive advantage

Don’t just meet the minimum exceed it! This is how you stand out from the rest. Remember, there probably already people who were doing your job. Your future employer doesn’t need a duplicate because that’s a waste of time and money. You must stand out and discovering where you can apply your transferable skills to your new ones.

In my case, I chose to obtain my CAPM (Certified Associate in Project Management) certification. I already had the transferable skill with my MBA so my CAPM would be my competitive advantage. I took my first project management course in April 2010 earning my CAPM certification in August 2011.

Now it wasn’t a straight and narrow path. I failed my exam the first time. I was stuck again! Immediately I performed an autopsy examining my study habits. I devoted 2 extra hours of study creating my own practice exams shoring up my weak areas. I passed the CAPM exactly 2 weeks later. There was good news: I received my promotion 8 months to the day I passed the CAPM certification exam.

I accomplished all of this because I declared to get unstuck persevering against all odds and you can too!