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How to Differentiate between Urgent and Important

By Junaid Tahir Do you really understand the difference between urgent and important? It really matters if you do. In our day-to-day...

By Junaid Tahir

Do you really understand the difference between urgent and important? It really matters if you do.

In our day-to-day life, we have so many tasks on our to-do list. Some are smaller, some are bigger, some are highly important, and others are least important. We keep working on these throughout our lives. Sometimes we prioritize, and sometimes we don't. However, I would emphasize that if we prioritize the tasks, our day-to-day lives can improve dramatically.

As many people confuse urgent with important, here is the basic elaboration of Urgent and Important:

  • "Important" is something that cannot and should not be ignored at any cost.
  • "Urgent" means that quick action is required as soon as possible.

Sometimes urgent things are not very important. For example, turning off a running tap to avoid wastage of water (and save the bills). However, there are times when urgent things are most important as well, for example, a crying baby in the kitchen due to a fire on the stove. Another example of urgent is 'executing a task directly coming from the Department director.'

Prioritizing Tasks in Official Scenarios

Talking about official scenarios, I have observed professionals not prioritizing things properly, consequently, putting their time and energies into less important and less urgent things. As I always like an analytical approach in nearly all fields of life, I would like to emphasize again in this article to analyze the situation and rank the tasks based on urgency or importance. Once the importance and urgency of tasks are defined, it is very easy to scrutinize and make action strategies. A piece of advice while analyzing any given job would be to consider the impact on stakeholders (managers/departments/customers/field staff/family members, etc.) if any task is delayed.

Practical Tips for Prioritization

Finally, I would recommend not to make this practice too complicated. Just think quickly, consult a couple of colleagues or family members if required, and plan things swiftly. At the end of the day, we want ease in our lives and not extra stress. Once you have developed good analytical skills, your life will be much easier; trust me.

This article is written by Junaid (mjunaidtahir at gmail dot com). Feel free to give feedback.

Junaid Tahir, a telecom engineer and a blogger, writes articles on wisdom, happiness and stress management at his personal blog