Why “urgent” and “important” isn’t important anymore – Pick Dave’s Brain

This week’s question comes from Antonio in Montreal, Canada.

Q: I went through your “Time Management Fundamentals” course. You said that when organizing tasks, anything between 5-15 minutes or of “no big importance” goes into the task reminders list. What happens when we have a lot of these tasks? Do you organize them into categories like “urgency” or “importance”?

Click to tweet this: Whether it makes one dollar or a million, if a task has a deadline, it belongs on your calendar. @DaveCrenshaw

Should Dwight Eisenhower tell us how to run our lives?

This week’s question comes from Antonio in Montreal Canada. He asks:

I went through your “Time Management Fundamentals” course. You said that when organizing tasks, anything between 5-15 minutes or of “no big importance” goes into the task reminders list. What happens when we have a lot of these tasks? Do you organize them into categories like “urgency” or “importance”?

Dave:

Thanks for the question, Antonio!

Whenever people tell me they have too many tasks on their task reminders list, it’s a sign that they are probably not processing properly. Why?

If you follow the processing system that I teach in Time Management Fundamentals, the majority of your items should go to your calendar, not your task reminders list. So where’s the breakdown in your processing system?

Well, you may have answered your own question. You said that my rule was anything between 5-15 minutes and of “no big importance” should go into the task reminders list. That’s a bit of a misquote. The rule is that anything between five and fifteen minutes and does not have a hard deadline—should go into the task reminders list.

Anything that has a deadline, regardless of how long it takes should go on to your calendar. In this way, we’re having to make strategic decisions in our calendar about the relative priority of the stuff we need to do.

Which gets to the last part of your question—should I categorize it according to urgency and importance? This is a reference to the decision matrix of President Dwight D. Eisenhower that was made popular by Steven R. Covey.

This system doesn’t really work anymore because we have too many things coming at us. Everything is urgent and everything is important. Therefore, the only thing that we can do is prioritize according to time. The things that we need to do, we should schedule it earlier in our calendar. And the things we don’t need to do or don’t need to do soon, we should either get rid of them, or push them way off into our calendar. In this way, the only prioritization tool that you need is simply the date on which you schedule something to occur.

Thanks for your great question!

And if you have a question that you’d like me to answer, please go to davecrenshaw.com/ask.


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