The Appropriate Urgency

I was discussing the Eisenhower (important/urgent) matrix with some friends the other morning, and someone wisely copped to the difficulty of discerning the true urgency of important tasks.

Either, he said, everything important feels urgent — or it’s too tempting to let the important things linger until they’re undeniably urgent.

As he also recognized, though, “undeniably urgent” is a long way of saying “emergency,” which is no way to handle your most important work. Nor is it any way to handle yourself: being in constant emergency mode is inimical to working well on work that matters.

There’s no magical prescription for this conundrum. Real life doesn’t come sorted into colored boxes separated by clear, impermeable lines. But that’s only the more reason to practice approaching what’s important with the appropriate urgency.