Most of you have seen the Eisenhower Matrix (otherwise known as the Urgent-Important matrix).
The one problem I find with this matrix is that when everything feels urgent, it’s tough to gauge importance.
Urgency is often manufactured.
To try to mitigate this, I ask – If I don’t do this by x time, will I get arrested or fined?
If yes, and that deadline is close – then it is urgent.
And likely important if I am going to get arrested or the fine is really high.
So what about all of the other “urgent” stuff?
Ask more questions.
- Why is this being requested? What is the event trigger?
- Are there more people who need to see the results of the request?
- When was the requestor informed of the task? (i.e. “How long was this sitting on your desk?” You may need to find a gentler way to ask this.)
You might not be in the position to gauge the importance of the request. Or whether it should be done at all.
At least, not yet.
But at least you can isolate whether something is really urgent or manufactured urgent.
This will help provide space for analyzing importance – I’ll talk about those questions in the next few posts.