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How to prioritize using the urgent/important principle

Do you feel like you could prioritize more efficiently at your business? You're not alone -- and this problem is not a new one.

During a speech in 1954, former President Dwight Eisenhower said, "I have two kinds of problems: the urgent and the important. The urgent are not important, and the important are never urgent." A theory was created around that quote, now known as the Eisenhower Principle. It involves the use of a matrix to classify the four types of tasks on your list, as follows: 

Urgent and Important: This includes the responsibilities that should be completed immediately, like tracking down a missing customer shipment that's already running behind.

Important, Not Urgent: In this category, you'll include tasks that have to be completed, but not immediately. For instance, you may need to nail down the budget for an upcoming website redesign, but it's not required to be done today.

Urgent, Not Important: You can delegate these responsibilities to others. For instance, if you keep getting notifications that your security alarm is malfunctioning, you can ask a staff member to handle that.

Neither Important Nor Urgent: Ideally you can cut these tasks from your list entirely. For instance, catching up on personal emails.

If you're unclear about how to identify "urgent" and "important" tasks, here's a reminder:

Urgent tasks are the ones that must be handled immediately. If you don't address them swiftly, there will be big repercussions.

Important tasks help you reach your overall goals. If you don't address them, you could fail to hit the benchmarks you created for yourself.

Check out this infographic to get more details on the matrix, and start prioritizing your tasks into one of the squares to ensure you're working as efficiently as possible. 

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