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Principle of importance / urgency Eisenhower; What should we do sooner?

Study guide

Imagine your boss asks you to make a presentation for a very important meeting. You do not have two or three more days to prepare for the presentation, you are already busy and there are thousands of other urgent tasks waiting for you in the to-do list. You are nervous because of all this work, you can not concentrate and you are distracted by everything.

Among the stressors, the time factor is one of the most common reasons for feeling stressed in the workplace. The time factor is stressful when you have a lot of work to do, but very little when you have it. How to overcome this stress and do what is crucial to get good results?

Eisenhower Principle of Importance / Urgency helps you think about your priorities and decide which tasks are important and which are the only ones that interfere.

What are “important” and “urgent” tasks?

In 1954, the second meeting of the World Council of Churches witnessed a speech by former US President Dwight D. It was Dwight D. Eisenhower. In this lecture, Eisenhower quotes Dr. J. J. Roscoe Miller, then president of Northwestern University. The content of the quote was: “My problems are of two kinds; Urgent and important problems. “Urgents are not important, and there is never an urgency for the important.” This phrase became known as the “Eisenhower Principle” and is said to have been used by Eisenhower to manage his work and priorities.

He realized that time management is as much about getting good results as it is about using time properly. In other words, we should not spend our time only on things that are urgent; But we also have to make time for important things. In order to be able to do important work and get rid of the stress of a lot of work that is overdue and consecutive, we need to know the difference between “importance” and “urgency”:

  • Important tasks have consequences that lead to the achievement of important goals. These goals may be career goals or personal goals.
  • Urgent tasks require immediate attention and are usually aimed at achieving another person’s goals. People often focus on emergency work. These actions require an immediate response, because the person will immediately see the consequences of not doing them.

Once you know what is important and what is urgent, you can overcome the tendency to do unimportant but urgent things. This way you will have enough time to do the things that are critical to your success. Categorizing tasks in this way will help you get rid of the pressure of serialized tasks and get to the point where you can achieve career advancement or business development.

How to use the Eisenhower principle

To apply this principle, list all the tasks and projects that you feel you should do. Try to write down everything that the office is going to take from you, even if it is not so important. Of course, if you use the steps of writing a to-do list and work plan to manage your time, you have probably gone through this step before.

In the next step, put the list in front of you and think carefully about each of these things. See which of the four groups you see in each of the figures in the figure below?

Then with the help of the following strategies you can plan your work.

1. Both important and urgent

There are two categories of tasks that fall into this category: ‌ One that you may not have been able to anticipate in advance and the second category that you have delayed until the last minute.

If you plan ahead and learn that How not to procrastinate, Your work will not last for the last moment.

As for the first category; However, not all possible issues and crises can always be predicted. It is best to leave some time in your schedule so that you can manage the situation if something unexpected happened or something important happened that was not already in your schedule. You may also need to reschedule your work if you have a major crisis.

If the number of tasks that are both important and urgent is too large, specify which tasks could be predicted in advance. Then think about it and see how similar things can be planned in advance so that they do not become an emergency.

2. Important but not urgent

These activities are the ones that are effective in achieving your personal and professional goals and advancing important projects.

Make sure you have enough time to do these things properly. Spending a lot of time on these activities will prevent them from becoming an emergency in the future. Also, do not forget to take enough time to deal with unexpected issues. This makes it easier to commit to the program, emergency work does not hinder important activities, and you get rid of the stress of this issue.

3. Emergency but not important

Emergency but insignificant activities get in the way of you and prevent you from reaching your goals. See if you can postpone them to another time or leave them to someone else?

Many times this is because of the subordination and requests of others that one agrees to do. But sometimes it is better to politely say “no” to others or to encourage them to solve their own problems. How to say “no” to the other person without upsetting him? It can help you do that.

Another way is to set a fixed time to talk to others so that coworkers and employees can ask questions and requests only at that time. At regular intervals, you can hold regular meetings with the people who bother you the most so that you can address all their requests and problems at once. By doing this, you can focus on your important tasks for a longer period of time.

4. Neither important nor urgent

These activities are nothing but a waste of time and energy; Avoid them as much as you can.

Many of these types of tasks can be simply ignored or removed from the program. However, some of them may have been asked of you by others and may not help you achieve your goals. Again, if possible, politely say “no” and explain why you can not accept it.

If others find out that you have specific goals and are clear about the boundaries of your relationship, they will usually no longer ask you to do “unimportant” things for them.


Principle of importance / urgency Eisenhower; What should we do sooner?

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