Focus on Important Instead of Urgent

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It’s guest post day here at Duct Tape Marketing, and today’s guest post is from Paige Wilson  – Enjoy! 

photo credit: Copyright: elnur / 123RF Stock Photo
photo credit: Copyright: elnur / 123RF Stock Photo

As a small business owner, do you know how much your company earns or loses because of the skills of your employees? How can you increase the productivity and efficiency of your business?

Productivity is vital to the success of a business, especially for small businesses. Every business owes its success to the productivity of its employees which is defined as the rate of output per unit of input. Productivity is not about working harder but working smarter and more efficiently.

What are the factors that contribute to productivity?

The most important factors are high morale, encouragement, and time management. Statistics shows that two out of five business owners rank time as their most important asset. Small companies need to keep encouraging and motivating their employees even in times of stress.

Some ways of improving productivity can be using apps and cloud tools which enable tasks to be completed with greater accuracy. Other ways are through steps like managing “dead time”.  Many employees complain that they are unable to manage and complete their tasks within the stipulated time. One great way to resolve this is by using the Eisenhower Matrix. 

Increase your productivity manifold with this simple and effective Eisenhower Matrix

Eisenhower Matrix

This matrix is the very popular Urgent-Important Matrix popularized by Stephen Covey, but originally discovered by President Dwight Eisenhower. President Eisenhower always made decisions regarding work and time on the basis of two simple questions: Whether the work was important? Whether it was urgent? He described it briefly in this form- “What is important is seldom urgent and what is urgent is seldom important.” 

How are important and urgent two separate things and WHY understanding this difference can change you routine and eventually your life?

Before coming to how the matrix can be used, it is important to understand what Eisenhower meant by using the words “urgent” and “important”. The term “urgent” refers to things that demand our immediate attention. They scream out for instant responses and hence can be stress inducing and time wasting. These could be emergencies, telephone calls, meetings, or emails. But do they really merit our attention? Today’s digital technology and extensive use of social media have made it worse with multiple stimuli distracting us.

The term “important” on the other hand refers to those things, tasks, or activities that are important for us in the long term. They may refer to our mission, values, goals and need our time and attention. They are not “time wasters” but may never seem “urgent”.

How can YOU make use of Eisenhower Matrix to help yourself and manage your time better?

The matrix as depicted above has four categories of tasks. Check out which quadrant the task demanding your attention falls into. The top two quadrants fall under “important” and not “urgent” categories. If they are important give them priority. If the tasks do not fall into the above two quadrants, then either do it later or delegate it to someone who has the time to do it. This would help the work efficiency and help you in maximizing your time.

Examples of some activities falling into these quadrants are:

  1. Quadrant 1- Recreation, long term goals.
  2. Quadrant 2- Crisis, problems, deadlines.
  3. Quadrant 3- Meetings, activities.
  4. Quadrant 4- Timewasters.

Adapt the Eisenhower Matrix now

As a small business owner, it would help if you could adapt this approach and incorporate it into your daily life and train your employees to follow this as well.

Paige WilsonAbout Paige Wilson – Paige is associated with http://90dollarwebsite.com, an organization that provides business optimization solutions such as website designing, content engineering, social media and web marketing solutions. She loves to write and pitch in brand strategies. In her free time, she likes traveling with her family.


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Paige Wilson, Stuff That Works


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  1. Maybe it’s just my imagination, but it seems to me that I usually determine which items on my agenda are important. As far as urgent items, it seems other people try to make that designation for me.

    1. That is interesting Eric! I am sure it will work out as long as the other people can rightly point out the urgent issues, and well in time. Nevertheless, I would recommend trying out this matrix once, and you might just be able to quickly segregate your urgent and important issues yourself 🙂 Cheers! Paige

  2. Hi Paige – This seems really useful. How do *you* use the matrix? Is it as simple as making a to-do list and considering the four quadrants? Or do you consider the task’s quadrant before tackling the task?

    1. Hi Elizabeth. Well, I started using the matrix when I realised I ended up deferring important work, and spent more time completing trivial tasks. It was probably because the unimportant tasks were easier to complete and I could tick them off my to-do list :). The fact is, it is actually as simple as dividing your tasks among the four quadrants. The moment you start analysing which quadrant the task falls into, you get some clarity on how and when you should address it. I have found that, as soon as I divide the tasks, I can usually get started on the right ones immediately. It is as if reinforcing their priority, and helps me get them done quickly. I guess they rightly say, well begun is half done 🙂

  3. Well, I started using the matrix when I realised I ended up deferring important work, and spent more time completing trivial tasks. It was probably because the unimportant tasks were easier to complete and I could tick them off my to-do list :). The fact is, it is actually as simple as dividing your tasks among the four quadrants. The moment you start analysing which quadrant the task falls into, you get some clarity on how and when you should address it.

    …………………..

    Symptoms

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