Using Time Effectively, Not Just Efficiently
Time stress is one of the most pervasive sources of pressure in our lives, and it happens as a result of having too much to do, in too little time. So, how can you beat this stress, and the ideas and thoughts that are the essence of you?
Eisenhower’s Urgent/Important Principle helps you think about your priorities, and determine which of your ideas and thoughts are important and which are, essentially, distractions.
What Are “Urgent” and “Important” Activities?
In a 1954 speech to the Second Assembly of the World Council of Churches, former U.S. President Dwight D. Eisenhower, who was quoting Dr. J. Roscoe Miller, president of Northwestern University, said: “I have two kinds of problems: the urgent and the important. The urgent are not important, and the important are never urgent.” This “Eisenhower Principle” is said to be how he organized his workload and priorities.
He recognized that great time management means being effective as well as efficient. In other words, we must spend our time on things that are important and not just the ones that are urgent. To do this, and to minimize the stress of having too many tight deadlines, we need to understand this distinction:
- Important activities have an outcome that leads to us achieving our goals, whether these are professional or personal.
- Urgent activities demand immediate attention and are usually associated with achieving someone else’s goals. They are often the ones we concentrate on and they demand attention because the consequences of not dealing with them are immediate.
On Ideas-Shared, we are interested in converting ideas and though into value and benefit. These are your important and urgent thoughts.
When we know which activities (including ideas and thoughts); are important and which are urgent, we can overcome the natural tendency to focus on unimportant urgent activities, so that we can clear enough time to do what’s essential for our success. This is the way we move from “firefighting” into a position where we can change and improve, or think about and do the things we want.
How to Use Eisenhower’s Principle on Ideas-Shared
When you open your mind, think about your ideas and thoughts and put it into one of four categories, as shown in the image over on the right.
You can fit every one of the 7 primary Ideas-Shared listing types (i.e. the idea, rant, problem, article, question, solution, and job); into any of these four categories based on your personal circumstances.
Then use the strategies described below to focus your attention on what matters.
1. Important and Urgent
There are two distinct types of urgent and important activities: ones that you could not have foreseen, and others that you’ve left until the last minute.
You can eliminate last-minute activities by planning ahead and avoiding procrastination unless of course, they are activities (e.g. problems), that have just come to light!
Clearly, you can’t always predict or avoid some issues and crises. So, when they happen, add your listing as appropriate and run with it.
2. Important but Not Urgent
These are the activities that help you achieve your personal and professional goals. On Ideas-Shared that may be an idea, you’ve always wanted to pursue or a special interest group problem you’ve always wanted to address.
Make sure that you have plenty of time to do these activities properly so that they do not become urgent. Also, remember to leave enough time in your schedule to deal with unforeseen problems. This will maximize your chances of keeping on track, and help you avoid the stress of anything becoming more urgent than necessary.
3. Not Important but Urgent
Urgent but not important tasks are things that prevent you from achieving your goals. Ask yourself whether you can reschedule or delegate accordingly. As an example here, you may wish to vent your frustrations about something (that’s a rant listing on Ideas-Shared).
A common source of such activities is other people or things that happen to you. It’s up to you to decide whether you want to follow up on such things. Adding urgent activities to Ideas-Shared can alert and warn others. It may also be the start of a focus group or Project to start and address the issue.
4. Not Important and Not Urgent
From an Ideas-Shared perspective, these activities are a distraction or fun. You might consider and article or question here; although these may also be important to you.
Eisenhower’s Urgent/Important Principle helps you quickly identify the activities that you should focus on, as well as the ones you should ignore. The more members that choose to list important activities, the more chance we have of making our world a better place.
Use the logic to prioritize your time, deal with truly urgent issues, and work towards important, longer-term goals. Use Ideas-Shared to help you do this.
When you add a listing to Ideas-Shared, you will be asked to add at least one option from each of the following:
- 4 Priorities: Important and Urgent Activities, Important but Not Urgent Activities, Not Important but Urgent Activities, and Other/Fun Activities
- 7 Listing types: Idea, Rant, Problem, Article, Question, Solution, and Job
- 102 Topical Categories: e.g. Money & Debt, Economy, etc.
Select one or more to craft a highly bespoke categorization of your activity/Project.
Basing our priority logic on Eisenhower’s Principle is key to helping other people from identifying your priority needs so that they can come and help you.
Click the following links to check out current listings by priority on Ideas-Shared: