There are important matters and there are urgent matters.
Although they might seem quite similar at first glance, they are rather different. Not everything that is important is urgent and otherwise, not everything that is urgent is important.
The longer we wait for important matters to be resolved, the more urgent they get.
Ironically, this also applies for fairly unimportant tasks. The longer we wait, the more urgent they get.
This can lead to these matters becoming so urgent that they become a distraction.
You could compare it to a small flame that is lit somewhere in a forest – right now it is not urgent to put the flame out – but if you would forget to put it out it would eventually grow.
The more it grows the more urgent it becomes to put it out.
Now in the worst case, the forest would start to catch fire – now it has become urgent and important to extinguish the fire. And in our daily business and life we also have similar situations.
There might be small matters that we don’t rate important but then suddenly they become very urgent. Who doesn’t know the situation where you are suddenly faced with a bill you have to pay ASAP because you have simply forgotten about it?
This is why today we are going to introduce a very simple and handy tool that you can implement in your life which will not only save you tons of worries but also loads of time!
It is not something you have to spend money on, you can simply set it up in your Smartphone on a notepad – or if you are old-fashioned – you can also draw it on paper. The tool probably has lots of different names, but to keep it simple we will refer to it as “4-Field-Panel”.
The 4-Field-Panel is simply a table that allows you to classify tasks into one of four categories.
With the help of this tool you will probably be able to avoid any unpleasant “emergencies” which cost you your valuable time so dearly. It will help you to focus on what is IMPORTANT and to get done what is URGENT.
This way you have more time to enjoy your life and less time to worry. So without further a due, let’s take a look at the 4-Field-Panel.
Field #1 – Important and urgent
Probably, this is the most “unpleasant” category.
This category is for tasks that have to be done as soon as possible and don’t allow to be procrastinated. Into this category fall al the so called “time-wasters” that show up out of nowhere when we the least need them.
This is the fire that has to be put out IMMEDIATELY. It stands for all the tasks that we don’t like to do and therefore we don’t pay them enough attention. They chase us and don’t lose track of us unless we do something to get rid of them.
On the upside, however, if you have completed these tasks then you will have much more space to breathe.
The best advice is to do such things early in the morning because if we look at it from a psychological point-of-view, we have much more to look out for if we take care of the unpleasant things first.
Field #2 – Important but not urgent
Everything that really matters but can and will take time, comes into this category.
We’re talking about long-term goals for example.
Be it learning a new language, developing a new skill or simply saving and investing money for the future – it all comes into this field.
There might be life-changing-decisions that you are going to make which you can simply put into this category. The tasks here are not really urgent because they don’t need to be done as soon as possible.
You can compare this category to growing and nurturing a seed – it is important to take care of the seed and water it but it is not urgent.
Then, after some time, the seed will start to bloom and grow into a tree which will one day be able to provide you with shade.
Then you can sit in the shade and enjoy the work you have put in. Very important, but not urgent.
Field 3# – Not important, but urgent
How can something be not important and still urgent?
Well, it might be things you don’t like doing but are not yet important. This is a dangerous category because the things you list here might turn into a category 1 matter – meaning that they can suddenly become important and urgent if you don’t look after them.
Think of this category like a filter acting previously to category 1. All urgent things are to be put into this category and then from here you can decide which of the listed tasks are not yet important and can therefore stay and which ones are important have to be done ASAP.
It all comes down to prioritizing and scheduling. Decide what is important but can still wait and make it a field 3 tasks. Then decide what is important and can’t wait any longer and put it into category 1.
Field 4# – Not important and not urgent
Finally, we come to the last category which holds all things that are neither important nor urgent.
Simply list all the things here which should or could be done but don’t have to be. And if they are not done it doesn’t matter either.
This category will just help you keep such things in mind so that you won’t forget about them. Maybe there is a new recipe you want to try out but you haven’t had the time to do so. List it here and do it whenever you feel like you have enough time.
We all have some things in our mind which we simply forget about because we haven’t written them down. With the help of this field, we can write all things down and then decide which category they finally belong to.
You have now been introduced to a powerful tool which could make your life easier.
I have found it quite useful as it really gives you insight into what has to be done and what not. It gives me a sense of priority and helps me to conquer unpleasant tasks first.
I’m wondering what you think of this tool. Would you implement it in your life? What do you like about it and what not? Let me know in the comment section below as I’m looking forward to the discussion!
“They always say time changes things, but you actually have to change them yourself”
– Andy Warhol –