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Deciding what gets priority can be tricky.1 But the Eisenhower Matrix is an incredibly useful tool lớn clarify your activities and basic responses lớn them.2
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Urgent Not Urgent Important Quadrant 1
Characteristics: Urgent, Important
Characteristics: Not Urgent, Important
Not Important Quadrant 3
Characteristics: Urgent, Not Important
Characteristics: Not Urgent, Not Important
Without clarity about what makes something urgent or important, urgency can readily masquerade as importance. When it does ví, Quadrants 1 and 3 can easily drown out Quadrant 2.
Clearly, any criteria for identifying the urgency or importance of your commitments can’t yield consistent results mechanically and automatically.3 Such decisions are just as hermeneutical as are the rest of your interactions with the world.4
But clear criteria can make the process less ambiguous. And that decrease in ambiguity can help không tính phí you from the “tyranny of the urgent” that subordinates all questions of importance under itself.5
Criteria for Urgency
Between the urgency and importance, it’s much easier lớn identify urgency. Urgency focuses on the question: When does something matter?
The sooner something matters, the greater its urgency. The greater the urgency, the more whatever situation will press upon you socially, emotionally, cognitively, or otherwise.
That pressure occurs on a sliding scale because there are degrees of urgency, just as there are of importance. For example, a heart attack has greater urgency (and importance) than vãn a cavity. But the basic transition from “not urgent” lớn “urgent” comes when something starts demanding your attention, however softly or loudly.
That demand expresses itself as pressure that may rise lớn a level where you notice it making you disconcerted. Even in this state, a given demand might still be less urgent than vãn something else. But a feeling of pressure or disconcertedness can provide a clear indication of when something has moved from “not urgent” lớn somewhere in the “urgent” column.
The reverse is also true. You might have a commitment you bởi need lớn complete. But you might be able lớn negotiate a deadline for that commitment that you feel is sufficiently long-term.
In that case, the commitment might slide down the pressure scale lớn a point where you’re comfortable with it. If it does, it’s moved from “urgent” lớn “not urgent.”
At this stage, it can be helpful lớn probe whether the urgency dissipates if you reframe an activity.
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Perhaps there’s an emotional push lớn complete something as soon as possible. But you might recognize that there won’t be any discernable negative consequences until much later.
Where such feelings are bound up with expectations from others, you might be able lớn ameliorate the urgency of an item simply by communicating or negotiating clearly about your plans for it.
If the urgency remains for whatever reason, you’ll have a Quadrant 1 or 3 activity. But if it dissipates, then you have a Quadrant 2 or 4 activity.
If the urgency dissipates and the activity doesn’t remain important (Quadrant 4), you can simply eliminate the activity.
Or if the urgency dissipates but importance remains (Quadrant 2), you can concentrate on that commitment at the appropriate time(s). And in the interim, you can avoid being harried over how quickly you’ll complete it.
Header image provided by Oliver Roos. ↩
On this matrix, see especially Stephen R. Covey, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People: Powerful Lessons in Personal Change, 25th anniversary ed. (New York: Simon & Schuster, 2013), 159–64. ↩
Cf. David Allen, Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity (New York: Penguin, 2003), 48. ↩
E.g., see Hans-Georg Gadamer, Truth and Method, ed. and trans. Joel Weinsheimer and Donald G. Marshall, 2nd ed., Bloomsbury Revelations (London: Bloomsbury Academic, 2013), 401–514. ↩
Particularly helpful in assembling this list have been Allen, Things; Covey, Habits; Michael S. Hyatt, Free lớn Focus: A Total Productivity System lớn Achieve More by Doing Less (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Publishing Group, 2019); and Rory Vaden, Procrastinate on Purpose: 5 Permissions lớn Multiply Your Time (New York: Perigee, 2015). ↩
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