Are you spending all of your time in crisis-mode? Are you a proverbial fire fighter? If you’re checking your email so often that it’s preventing you from getting any actual work done, then you’re confusing the urgent with the important. Doing so will ultimately drain your energy and leave you with little to show for it at the end.
“What is important is seldom urgent, and what is urgent is seldom important.” – Dwight Eisenhower
Enter the Eisenhower Box, a simple decision-making tool:
(Illustration via “The Decision Book: 50 Models for Strategic Thinking“)
Here are a few examples of how the categories combine, according to Drake Baer, co-author of Everything Connects: How to Transform and Lead in the Age of Creativity, Innovation, and Sustainability:
Important and urgent: Attending to a crying baby, tackling a crisis at work, and mailing your rent check
Important but not urgent: Saving for the future, getting enough exercise, sleeping your seven to nine hours a night
Not important but urgent: Booking a flight, sharing an article, answering a phone call
Not important and not urgent: Watching “Game of Thrones,” checking your Facebook, eating cookies
Urgent means a task requires immediate attention, putting you in a reactive mode, You become defensive, negative, hurried, and narrowly-focused.
Important tasks contribute to your long-term mission. Sometimes important tasks are also urgent, but typically they’re not. Focusing on important tasks puts you in a responsive mode, which keeps you calm, collected, and inventive.
Read the rest of Baer’s article here.