What’s the difference between important vs.urgent?

As an organizer I help my clients find more space, more time and more joy in their lives.  Learning better time management skills and determining what is an important vs. urgent task is a great first step.  Most people use the terms important and urgent interchangeably but there are subtle and important differences.  So, what is the difference between important vs. urgent tasks in time management?  If a task is urgent to you, complete it immediately.  Urgent tasks are safety and health related so don’t delay on doing these right away.  If task has a time and date deadline – i.e. you have to sign up for a class by 5:00 pm on the 1st or you will incur late fees, do the task immediately.  If a task has a near deadline or involves health and safety, do it now.  But aren’t important tasks urgent too?

Getting important tasks done

Do you have a to-do list?  If so – and I hope you do! – you likely have lots of tasks that you need to complete.  Your friend’s birthday is next month and you want to send a card.  Great, get it done but don’t interrupt the project your working on to complete that task.    Do you need to follow up on upcoming summer vacation plans?  Add it to the “to do” list for later but keep working on the report that has to be completed by end of day.   You have lots of important tasks to complete so build time into your schedule so they don’t become urgent crises.  I work on certain tasks early in the morning when I have uninterrupted time before the “workday” starts and the phone starts ringing.  Can you use that uninterrupted time to complete important tasks – expense reports, updating billing, balancing your checkbook – when the day is quiet?

Good time management skills keep most important tasks from becoming urgent tasks.  Time is a limited commodity and we have to use it wisely in order to accomplish more and have more time for the people and things we love.