Top Line Menu

How to decide whats Urgent Vs. Important

Do you spend so much time with things that suddenly crop up and demand your time, only to come to the end of the day and find that you haven’t achieved half of what you wanted to get done?

Thats no way to live. You end up being forever behind, and never quite reaching your goals.

Do you really want to end up one day looking back and thinking about what could have been, if only you had had the time?

There is a way to get more done with your time – and thats being able to determine what you actually spend time on.

Knowing the difference to whats urgent and whats important in your life is one of the key ways of being able to prioritise effectively, and become more aware of where you are wasting your time.

Every day we are faced with tasks, some are scheduled and some are unexpected – and our TO DO list seems to just expand with time rather than get any smaller – sound familiar?

Knowing the difference and being able to spot whats urgent and whats important will help you in seeing where you need to spend your time, and slowly enable you to control your time better than ever.

So, whats Urgent and whats Important?

URGENT refers to time specific items, and IMPORTANT means that it is a valued item to you.

Look at this chart, broken down into 4 sections:-



I have given these 4 sections specific names to hopefully make them easier to see how they affect you and your life:-

1 = Urgent and Important “FIREFIGHTING”

2 = Not Urgent and Important “GROWING”

3 = Urgent and Not Important “DRAINING”

4 = Not Urgent and Not Important “WASTING”

Now – to go through them in more detail and show you exactly how they can help you to see things more clearly in your life.


Anything thats urgent AND important are things that demand your time and energy there and then, and everything else has to be left. These are usually emergencies such as illness, breakdown, family emergency etc…..

You need to be able to let everything else slide for a while as and when required, as these things unfortunately do affect us ongoing through life. To be aware that they happen, and to expect them along the way will help in your time management.

Other things that make their way into this section are more self inflicted – such as a looming deadline that you have to hit, a missed birthday that you need to send card/present for, a school play that needs a costume today! Etc….  These are things that should have been planned out, with enough time to do them comfortably, but that got lost on the way and are now critical.

These are things that are the most draining. The key is to try and minimise these things as much as possible – and you can do that by keeping on top of the next sections tasks – so that they don’t become too urgent!.


These are items that are important but not urgent. Things like:-

Personal Development

Career progression

Getting fit

Eating Well

Home Maintenance and Upkeep etc..

Getting to where you want to be in life – your goals

This is where all of your work and life tasks should ideally be. They are items that will push you towards your goals, but there is no time limit on them so they can be completed when you have the time. These should be the main part of your TO DO list (otherwise why bother adding them to your TO DO list at all!?)

Obviously you can see that if you don’t manage your TO DO list and schedule tasks into your diary regularly, items will gradually move from this section to the FIREFIGHTING section i.e. if you don’t regularly maintain your boiler in your home then one day is may well breakdown and need immediate attention, money and stress – so this is where you have to use your new found time/diary management skills to keep on top of everything – scheduling in a regular maintenance appointment with a plumber will ensure that your boiler is always working to its optimum level.


Items that are urgent but not important go in this section. Take a second to think about what sorts of things you would add to this section that you currently do. Now ask yourself why are you letting them get in the way of your GROWING tasks?

Who wants lots of items that drain them in their lives? Not me and I am sure not you!. Endless phone calls (sales calls etc…), emails, junk mail, people constantly demanding your time and energy on things that aren’t important, the list is unfortunately endless.

You would be amazed at how much time the average office worker loses in their day by interruptions, and not only the interruption but also the time lost in getting back into the work that was interrupted. We simply don’t need this in our lives if we want to be more time savvy.

Take a look at a typical day – how much of your time is wasted by items such as those listed above? Write it down and really see how its affecting how much you are getting done.

Can you do something about the distractions? Working from home for some of the week, going into a meeting room to get an important piece of work done, not answering the phone and letting it go to voicemail ready for you to deal with when convenient, reading emails once a day only, planning your time so that you can get something done when you are by yourself etc….

Its only when you see that an item is in this section that you can see its value (or lack of) in your life.


This section is the worst of all. Not important and not urgent – quite simply, why would you spend any time at all on items such as these? I’m not even going to write much about this one as its so self explanatory.

Take anything off your TO DO list NOW that lies in this category – trust me – it will make you smile!

For example – Watching TV that isn’t important to you (flicking endlessly through the channels, Lie Ins for the sake of it, mending an item of clothing that you actually won’t wear again, etc…

So – whats the key?

The secret to a happy life is to have all your tasks fitting into the GROWTH section, and minimising or even getting rid entirely of the others. Try and fit every task you do for the next week in one of these sections, and you may be surprised at how much this can affect your time management. It is especially useful at highlighting where you need to be strong and say NO to things. If you are not doing something important or urgent then why are you doing it?

Enjoy your life most when you are working in the GROWING section most of the time, and possibly every so often bouncing into the FIREFIGHTING section and then back. Ultimately you will learn to easily spot where new tasks fall, and then decide whether to spend time on them or not.

I hope this helps you as much as me!


If you have any questions or comments please reply below and we’ll get back to you always. As ever, we love to hear from you!.

Don’t forget to subscribe to our RSS feed, Like Us on Facebook or Follow us on Twitter for the latest news and offers!

Pin It

More to read from Chrissy:

6 Responses to “How to decide whats Urgent Vs. Important”

  1. [...] things are things that aren’t urgent, but would make all the difference to my home life if they were done. They are the things that seem [...]

  2. Much Thanks!…

    Thanks for taking the time to provide us all with the info!…


    great post over at……

  4. I hadn’t thought about professional development as being important but not urgent. The same applies to updating my website and social media profiles. No wonder it’s so easy to keep putting those things on the back burner… We need to treat ourselves as if we were our own clients!

    • Hi Janet – Absolutely – makes you really think when you have to put your TO DO’s in one of the four sections. I only use important AND urgent for things that are emergencies etc… and you should always treat yourself as you would a client – you deserve to be important too!! – don’t let things for you slide to not important as then you will never feel totally fulfilled. Thanks for your comments!

  5. ameryyka says:

    Meega wpis…

    Nice page! Meega komentarz…

Leave a Reply

Powered by sweetCaptcha

organise my house, decluttering, time management, free printables, TO DO list, cleaning, motivation
organise my house facebook organise my house pinterest organise my house twitter organise my house contact us organise my house rss feed

Powered by WordPress. Designed by Woo Themes