Are you really prioritizing the right activities? This past weekend my wife and I hosted our daughter’s bridal shower. It was emotional on many levels as this is our oldest daughter and the first one to be engaged and on the road to marriage within a few weeks. She lives in Nashville, TN and coming to grips with the fact that she is not coming home was something my wife and I had to process individually and together. We knew the day would come and here it is.
As we reflected on her life to this point, our goal was to equip her as best we could to have a solid foundation, be a young lady, work hard, respect others, and appreciate life’s journey. This was just another reminder of making sure we prioritize the right activities.
Do you have a system for prioritizing the right activities? I use the decision making matrix as often as I can and need to make it a habit. I’m fairly confident this started with Dwight D. Eisenhower then brought to the masses with Stephen Covey in his book 7 Habits of Highly Effective People.
Below is the matrix and below are how it can be used to make sure you are prioritizing the important stuff in your life.
The Difference Between Urgent and Important
Urgent means the task requires immediate attention. These are the to-do’s that shout out loud – NOW! Urgent tasks put us in a reactive mode which usually is a defensive, hurried, negative and narrow-focused mindset.
Important means tasks that contribute to our long-term mission, values, and goals. Sometimes important tasks are also urgent, but typically they are not. When we focus on important activities we operate in a responsive mode, which helps us stay rational, calm, and open to new opportunities.
It’s a pretty intuitive distinction, yet most of us frequently fall into the trap of believing that all urgent activities are important. This mind-set in part originates from our ancestors where the urgent was important – like being chased by a saber-tooth cat because it could be the difference between life and death.
Like I mentioned earlier, the new technologies are constantly bombarding us like the dings of email, Twitter, and texts. We are being conditioned to be in an “always-on” state and we have the high potential to lose sight of the truly important and our long term direction. Working with the decision tree and reviewing your playbook can help you avoid burnout and stagnation because you keep your long term objectives at the top of your mind.
Quadrant 1: Urgent and Important Tasks
Quadrant 1 tasks are both urgent and important. These are the tasks that require our immediate attention and also work towards fulfilling our long-term goals and missions in life.