Urgent v/s Important Matrix

It’s been time since I wrote something and much is attributed to my own inability to manage as well as do things which I would love to do. This post is a reflection of a tool which can help all of us (including me) to remain focused. Nothing which I invented but again as I said earlier, my posts are more about what I learn/observe or get as guidance from my peers in industry. The tool carries a little treatment from principles of mathematics and how I wonder that this subject finds its way in almost everything which we do!!

Ever thought of prioritizing your tasks and making an effort to remain on-course to complete what you aimed for? We all start our day with an activity list. Some make it in form of notes whilst other would end with making a mind map of it but everybody does have a loose sense of what they are going to do. If you were to survey people and ask them what percentage of activity they really got accomplished, I am sure with certain level of confidence that it would not be a very great percentage to be pleased about personally.

We may start our day by reaching office, engage ourselves with some kind of beverage (non-alcoholic!!) and look at our list of activities. One gets to start to try and accomplish what he embarked upon just to be interrupted by an urgent work which his / her boss handed over just now and needs by noon before lunch!!! And yes this is the start of the end of your prioritization because now you have something which did not find place when you actually planned your day.

It is hard to make somebody visualize this, so I will draw a rough picture of what I am about to explain:

Urgent v/s Importan Matrix

The tool itself is very simple treatment of scatter chart and does not much explain once drawn, so I would not spend time explain what is shown above but would recommend a fun exercise to graph your activity chart on this matrix and see how it helps you to remain focused by clustering similar activities together in quadrants of urgent v/s important. When you see yourself doing this against a timeline chart it allows you derive goals, which can span from being daily to whatever time horizon you wished for.

One would argue how this can stem the sudden inclusion of tasks that disturb our schedule? , well the beauty of this is that it shows how much you deviate and how long you keep deviating by certain occurrence of tasks that necessarily when you analyze may not always turn out to be for example hitting the first quadrant right away. We generally tend to have impulsive reaction to what we get on ad-hoc basis and don’t process information is usual manner considering either time paucity or in general inability to either say “No” or setting right expectation about when we would be able to respect that activity with our time. We have tendency to forget that our time box is only as much that quadrant will map out or show, and there is no concept of infinity applied to it!!! , thus leading to stretched hours and undue stress to complete our work. In the end we end up having what we call competing priorities with no rules. The ability to think through in the manner explained above may help us provide some ground rules on how to make our priorities compete for the one common resource “Our Time”.


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