It is often difficult to differentiate between important tasks and urgent tasks. We have problems prioritizing them, and as a result, productivity suffers, deadlines are not met and processes do not work. In any business being able to properly prioritize tasks leads to better success. Jorge Zuñiga Blanco is an entrepreneur and business management expert from Costa Rica and details how to prioritize responsibilities as an entrepreneur to become more productive.
To determine emergency levels, first, we must know that urgency is a quality associated with time. The delivery/end date vs. task volume ratio determines the level of urgency. It is important to keep in mind that, between two tasks that require the same completion time, the most urgent is the one with the deadline before. In addition, between two tasks that have the same deadline, the most urgent is the one that takes the longest to do. If a task’s deadline is deferred, it becomes less urgent. If you find that a task will be longer than you thought, it will become more urgent. A task that has no deadline will never be urgent. Every task must have an appropriate completion time.
On the other hand, importance is a quality associated with the consequences. “A task is more important or not depending on the severity of the consequences we will suffer from not performing it,” asserts Zuñiga. Two tasks with similar consequences, independent of the categorization of difficulty or workload, are equally important. For example, it’s as important to write a report as taking it to the right person. Between two tasks, even if they do not look anything like each other, the most important will always be the one that causes the most serious effects if they do not finish it. A task may not change, but its consequences may vary, so the importance of it will increase or decrease depending on the variation in its consequences.
There are four types of tasks based on the urgent and the important. Urgent and important tasks are those that have an end deadline and that generate a benefit, are, therefore, the ones that must take precedence. Non-Urgent and important are those that have not yet had a deadline can also generate a benefit. They are suitable to carry out proper planning to carry them out in time. These are the typical tasks you can expect, but not defer indefinitely.
Urgent and not important tasks can be delegated. They are those that coincide in time, and, because they cannot be performed at the same time, generate stress. For example, having a task planned, at the same time an unforeseen event arises, such as an emergency meeting, etc. Non-Urgent and non-important tasks are those that have no end date and have no effect or consequence. Of course, they may or may not be deferred, for example, phone calls without any relation to your obligations, RRSS reviews, etc.
Good time management and planning are essential. When this is not done, everything becomes urgent and important. It is important to classify, evaluate, and prioritize tasks. Tasks that are not urgent are often deferred, but if important, because they are not “pleasant” or because they are complicated to perform. In the end, they create a “collapse” of tasks in the organization, and those that were not urgent, become urgent because, when they are postponed, the deadline is running out.
If a task seems very complicated, starting with the simplest part may be the best option. If a task can be delegated (not “dispatched”), it is delegated. “Many routine tasks are also important for achieving the proposed purposes. We must not stop doing important things because we think that there are others that are too urgent, but that are not so important at heart,” concludes Zuñiga.