In the busy worlds of publishing, communications, PR, media, internal comms and business, there are many time constraints and pressures. People want things done, and done now.
If you’re a ‘gate-keeper’, like a web publisher or editor, you’ll know how it feels when people tell you “this is urgent” or “we’re behind schedule, I need this done now”.
Other people’s slipped deadlines mean that they’re expecting us to drop everything and focus on their demands to bail them out of their poor time management problems.
Lots of things are important. Why would we spend time, money and resources on something that wasn’t? The trouble is, people can’t see the overall picture when they’re flapping around, worrying about their broken promises and deadlines. They confuse important with urgent.
Lots of things are important, but they’re not always urgent. The originator’s failure to keep to their deadline doesn’t mean their project is suddenly urgent for the rest of the company. Lots of things are urgent – who’s to say what the priority is with all these urgent and important matters? There are only so many hours in the day; resources are limited – always.
Important and Urgent Venn Diagram by Wedge – kilobox is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 UK: England & Wales License.
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Let’s be clear in our meaning; important and urgent are not synonyms – they have distinct definitions and while some tasks can be both important and urgent (as shown above in my basic Venn diagram) many tasks are not nearly as urgent as their owners believe them to be.
How do you differentiate between important matters, and urgent matters? How do you explain to task owners their assumption that their task is urgent for everyone is skewed and self-centred? How do you delay important matters when truly urgent tasks crop up?[Wedge]