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Time Management Strategies: Urgent vs Important

As a small business owner, no doubt you have more on your plate than you can possibly get done. Multitasking as you do, you may wear seven or more hats a day – the payroll hat, the accounts payable hat, the mailroom hat, the office manager hat, the receptionist hat, and on and on… you get the drift.

Here at Nationwide Super we care about your sanity, so we recommend some age-old time management strategies for our small business clients. The Eisenhower Decision Principle, made popular by Steven Covey in his book 7 Habits for Highly Effective People is one of our favourites. The decision-making matrix stems from Dwight D.

Eisenhower’s guiding principle: “What is important is seldom urgent and what is urgent is seldom important.”

The matrix is drawn with four quadrants. The two on the top are “urgent” and “not urgent” and the two on the bottom are “not important” and “important.” The four boxes then represent four kinds of activities and tasks you encounter:

  • The top left box, “urgent and important,” includes crisis items, problems or projects with deadlines.
  • The top right box, “not urgent and important,” includes improvements, planning, prevention, and often relationships.
  • Moving to the bottom left quadrant, “urgent and not important,” are items such as interruptions and often meetings. This quadrant is where many of spend more time than we’d like.
  • Finally, the last quadrant, “not urgent and not important,” are time wasters, distractions, and often pleasant activities.

You might want to draw the quadrant and keep it on your desk for a day. As you make your list of tasks, it may help you to categorise each by quadrant to help you decide what to do first.

Learn more about time management strategies in our Nationwide Super Blog and find advice, ideas and support for your small business.