"What is important is seldom urgent and what is urgent is seldom important."
—Dwight D. Eisenhower
Prioritizing tasks that are thrown at us on a daily basis can be overwhelming. Taking five courses alone will take up most students’ lives. Throw in activities in a few organizations as well as tutoring and things can become quite hectic. I have learned that planning is important to getting things done most effectively. You can't do everything in life, but you can do a lot more of what counts when you do prioritize.
The image shown is an Eisenhower grid, taken from wikipedia. The Urgent and Important tasks are life and death to complete, such as the paper that is due tomorrow that is worth 30% of your grade, or a friend calling you to drive him to the hospital (happened last week). This category contains the most crucial tasks that need to be done as soon as possible.
Staying healthy is obviously important, but often gets pushed back when other situations arise. I plan to go to the gym at least 4 times a week, but I don't feel bad scheduling a meeting when I was supposed to workout. This makes it Not Urgent, but still Important.
Making some extra money for school by tutoring other students would fall under Not Important due to it not being life or death for you, but it is Urgent because someone else is relying on you to complete it. These can be unexpected tasks that are unplanned, or the priorities of others who rely on you.
The new iPad game you just got falls under the last category, for obvious reasons. It is not an urgent matter nor is it truly Important. It is just something that you are doing.
Important things are those that get you closer to your goals, such as spending more time with your family. Urgent things are those that require immediate action, stress you out, but don't necessarily get you closer to your goals. Overall, the Eisenhower grid can help us spend more time on things that are important to us rather than just urgent.
Dylan Hunt is a Trent University Business Student and CMA Ambassador. He Spent four months studying in Osaka, Japan and worked in Hong Kong for the following summer. He is @DylanHunt on twitter. You can also find him on LinkedIn and Klout.