Everyone is given the same 24 hours in a day, yet some people feel it is not enough time to accomplish everything they need. While every individual has different sets of responsibilities, there are strategies that you can use to complete certain tasks within a day. It’s all about prioritising and managing your time.


Time management is the practice of organising specific activities as well as planning how much time you need to spend on them. Many individuals use this in their personal and professional lives.


For people in management positions enrolling in a time management course is common way to improve their skills. But even with supplementary knowledge and years of experience, project managers and team leaders can still experience some challenges. They can have trouble telling which tasks are urgent, important, or perhaps don’t fall under either category. When this happens, they can make mistakes on which activities need to be prioritised and impact their productivity.


If you want to learn how to identify tasks that are urgent, important, or are neither, read on.


Urgent Items Are Time Sensitive


Urgent tasks demand your immediate attention. They often have immediate deadlines or they’re already long overdue. These tasks are not necessarily time-consuming, nor do they require a lot of effort. They can be items that are easy to accomplish but need to be handled right away. Some urgent items include phone calls, tasks with impending deadlines, and situations that need your immediate response.


At times, activities become urgent when they have been previously deferred. For example, replying to an email can become an urgent task if you’ve ignored it for some time. While urgent tasks are time-sensitive, there are different types of urgent tasks you need to pay close attention to when planning your daily activities.


Urgent and Important


These types of tasks must be done right away or at the soonest possible time. Otherwise, you can experience negative consequences. These can refer to activities that you need to accomplish right away because they have other time-sensitive implications. For instance, other people might be depending on you to complete your task before they can move forward with theirs, like paying the deposit for a venue. If you don’t send a deposit, the production designers that are tasked to decorate the place can’t start on their work. Given that these activities are high in importance and demand urgency, you need to prioritise them.


Urgent but Not Important


When everything seems to be vying for your attention, it’s easy to mistake a task to be urgent even if it’s not important. This usually happens when other people demand your time without realising exactly what they need from you. In most cases, their challenges are passed on to you in order to find a quick fix or response. One example is your colleague calling for an urgent meeting because their business can’t make good progress. If you experience something like this, the best thing to do is talk about the seemingly urgent matter clearly. This way, you can manage your time better and do the activities that also require your immediate attention.


Important Tasks Contribute to Long-Term Goals


The main difference between important tasks and urgent ones is the former doesn’t have a deadline looming over them. They are considered important because they can affect an individual’s personal and professional life. Like urgent activities, these important tasks don’t have to be time-consuming, nor do they need tons of effort to be completed. Also, take note that what you consider important can differ from what other people think is important. It often requires an introspective exercise to determine if a task is important or not.


While some important projects or tasks don’t need immediate action, they can help you achieve your long-term objectives. They can serve as action steps towards the future that you are aiming for. Some examples include developing a new healthy habit, creating a new strategy, or planning the budget.


Many individuals often put off these important activities until later on because they tend to prioritise urgent ones. The downside of such an action is they won’t accomplish any of their important projects.


Tasks That Are Not Important and Not Urgent


If a task does not fall in any of the above mentioned criteria, it is non-urgent and non-important. It can be any activity that is a time-waster or trivial in nature. When you encounter such a task, it’s best to steer clear of it as it can prevent you from focusing on activities that are important and urgent.


Since many non-urgent and non-important tasks give you a pleasant feeling, you are drawn into doing them. Some examples are browsing social media sites, online shopping, or consistently checking your favourite news sites. Ideally, you put tasks in this criterion way below on your daily to-do list. Another option is to spend as little time on them as possible.


You can encounter different tasks or projects every day. Some of them require your immediate attention while others can affect you in the long term. By understanding what’s important and urgent, you can easily recognise which tasks to prioritise and which can help you manage your time and activities better. Once you master the skill, it can significantly impact your productivity and personal life.


Check out our time management courses by visiting our online courses page today.