Urgent vs. Important

There’s already been a lot written about “urgent versus important” as a management tool. I’m sure I’ll repeat some things, but they bear repeating. Some consultants advise using a JoHari Window to help manage the important and urgent.


Not Important


Not Urgent


  1. Immediately deal with important and urgent items.
    1. These are items that cannot wait and if not dealt with efficiently and effectively, there could be a significant downside impact.
    2. Often these will require using substantial amounts of resources so that the outcome is the best possible for everyone.
    3. Next, deal with urgent things quickly but do not invest lots of resources in them.
      1. They are wildfires that need to be put out. Don’t let them get out of control or there could be unfortunately consequences.
      2. Urgent things consume resources – time, money, and energy – and are often not productive.
      3. Third, focus on the important things.
        1. That’s where you need to invest your resources.
        2. Taking time to set expectations and standards will, in due course, mean that people will know what is important to you. They will realize that urgent things are usually insignificant and that you want to spend time on important stuff.
        3. Lastly, things that are not important and not urgent shouldn’t be dealt with at all. Not even by subordinates. They are a waste of time.

By the way, if you’ve not used JoHari Windows, I strongly encourage their use. You can put almost anything on the sides and once you fill in the squares, you’ll quickly see where you need to focus your resources. The Johari Window was created by two guys (Joseph and Harrington) in the 1950s as a tool to help interpersonal relationships, but management consultants saw where this can be used in a variety of business scenarios.

Lead On!