Urgent vs Important…

Got this from a newsletter to HOA (Home Owners Association) board members. Struck me as such a good idea I decided to share it here.

It is called the Eisenhower principle. In a 1954 speech, US President Eisenhower said:

I have two kinds of problems: urgent and important. The urgent are (often) not important, and the important are never urgent.

Eisenhower recognized one must be effective as well as efficient. We need to spend time on the important things — not just the urgent ones. To wit:

  • Important activities have outcomes that lead to achieving our goals.
  • Urgent activities demand immediate attention, and typically involve somebody else’s goals. However, the consequences of not dealing with them can be critical.

To use this principle, list all of the activities you need to address, no matter how unimportant. Next, prioritize the activities (1-10) Then put each activity in on of the four following categories.

Schedule activities based on the following:

  • Category I – HIGH urgency and HIGH importance — DO IT NOW
  • Category II – HIGH urgency and LOW importance – DELEGATE IT
  • Category III – LOW urgency and HIGH importance – SCHEDULE IT
  • Category IV – LOW urgency and LOW importance – DUMP IT

Eisenhower was highly productive his entire life. Prior to being the 34th US President (1953-1961) he was the Supreme Commander of Allied Forces in Europe (Five Star General), served as President of Columbia University and was the first Supreme Commander of NATO. And he still found time to golf and paint.

This simple tool is useful to both you (as a consultant) and your clients. Thanks Ike!

P.S. Visited the Eisenhower Library in Abilene KS last year. Well worth the visit if you are a history buff like I am.

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