Urgent vs Important

A lot of people confuse between the urgent and the important. Even people who have been in management roles for years and years in large corporate sometimes succumb to this disease in their professional or personal fronts. Understanding the difference between urgent and important can make a huge impact on the quality and productivity of both your personal and professional life.

Urgent tasks are mostly tasks that have an immediate deadline or a deadline that has passed. It is not necessary that these urgent tasks should be time consuming or effort intensive. It is also not necessary that these tasks will have a significant impact on your life ‘“ in fact they may be very trivial or silly. Most often things become urgent or an urgent situation is created when a person always knows that something had to be accomplished but kept deferring it. For instance, acknowledging the receipt of an email or submitting a not so important report ‘“ very trivial but if ignored can become an urgent task.

Important tasks, on the other hand, need not have a deadline looming over the person. They are important because of the impact that they can have on the person’s life. Again, these need not be time consuming or effort intensive and may not require you to do it immediately. For instance, planning your education or career since your school days ‘“ it is not something that you need to execute it right now but will help you chart your direction.

Urgency of tasks is based on deadlines. Deciding which task is important is relative to each person’s thoughts and circumstances. In other words, urgency is driven by external factors and external pressure. Deciding the importance of tasks is an introspective exercise.

The added dimension to this difference is that some tasks can be urgent and important. For instance, while you know that you may be having problems related to cholesterol, you may defer paying a visit to the doctor or get a full body health check which is very important for both your family and you. Then you actually get a stroke or heart attack which makes a consultation with a doctor urgent. If you had done these health checkups regularly and beforehand, it would have been just one of those other things in your to-do list. They became urgent because you ignored them

Using an urgent-important matrix can help people decide which tasks require their focus and effort.

1.Urgency of a task is largely governed by deadlines whereas importance of a task is decided by the impact or significant change it can have on your life
2.Urgency is driven by external factors like deadlines whereas importance is more of an introspective exercise. What you consider important can differ from what others consider as important.

Manisha Kumar. "Difference Between Urgent and Important." DifferenceBetween.net. May 10, 2018