We do not naturally place important tasks ahead of urgent tasks because they may not feel as important without someone forcing you to get them done. However, they are the number one priority
On the other hand, urgent tasks will seem important because people are asking, requesting, and demanding you get them done; they are often someone else’s top priority, and they are being forced upon you.
This will be a battle when you are struggling with your productivity. If you are behind or have an incredibly heavy workload, it will be difficult to force yourself to focus on important work before urgent work. This is why the Eisenhower Matrix is so helpful.
Benefits of Important Work over Urgent Work
There are direct benefits from working out of this matrix. These benefits help us to take time back, reduce stress, and become more productive. They have moved me from the darkest aspects of work and productivity to enjoying life and work. And most of all, I get my work done.
Time Won vs. Time Lost
Believe it or not, we gain time when we focus on important work first, then move to urgent work, and finally decide whether we want to do the non-important and non-urgent work. We start to get the really important things done first and then move through the non-important more quickly. The bottom line is our work gets done faster in order to have more time for other things.
On the other hand, when we are spending more time on urgent work and less time on important work, we delay getting to our end product and spend extra time catching up. This is how we get behind, and management or customers begin throwing more urgent work at us. When this happens, we lose time.
Peace and Enjoyment vs. Stress and Dread
When we focus on the important work first, we get more done for our end product and feel better about the work we do. It brings us a greater sense of peace, and we enjoy accomplishing our goals. This makes work better and overall life better.
However, when we focus on the urgent work first, we go from one fire to the next. Trying to put all of them out without actually getting anything done. We enter into a stressful frame of mind where we begin to dread everything. It really affects all areas of life.
Being Productive and Being Unproductive
Ultimately, focusing on our important work helps us be productive, complete our end product more quickly and finish more work altogether. Pouring all of our attention into important work is when we function at our highest level and when we accomplish the work we need to do.
However, our urgent work creates unproductive habits and sabotages our efforts. If we are losing time, feeling stressed and dread work, then we will not get things done. We become an ever-growing avalanche of unproductive energy, and we simply don’t make progress toward our end goal.
Don’t Let Urgency Ruin Your Productivity
In the end, we cannot let urgency ruin our work. If we do, we will continue to be unproductive and stuck. However, when we are focusing on our important work and keeping ourselves on track with the Eisenhower Matrix, we can get work done and begin to see margin coming back into our lives.
The Eisenhower Matrix is a tool that helps us prioritize our work in a way that is consistent with the 80/20 Rule. It is a preset system for dealing with both our 20% work and our 80% work. With this system, we can distinguish between what will get things done and what will merely keep us busy.
Now that we understand how it’s possible to get sidetracked from the important work we will learn some ways of dealing with urgent work.