The moment you search the internet for the difference between urgent and important tasks, results with the Eisenhower time management matrix fill up your screen. For people who don’t know what this looks like, it’s a 2X2 matrix, just like the one below.
So, there are 4 basic areas in this matrix. The matrix helps you divide your tasks into 4 categories -
- Urgent and important tasks
- Urgent but not important tasks
- Not urgent and not important tasks
- Not urgent but important tasks
Understanding the correlation between HR, and divide between important tasks and urgent tasks
So, why are we writing a blog about the divide between urgent and important tasks? And how does it relate to HR? Well, you are in luck, we have 3 reasons.
Firstly, priority tasks are assigned based on the level of importance and urgency they present. Both of these factors play an important role in the decisions made in an organisation. Understanding the correlation between these variables and dividing tasks on their basis will increase productivity.
Secondly, understanding how importance and urgency are correlated will help you decide the order of completion for all assigned tasks. You can establish a clear timeline for the completion of each task depending on the quadrant it falls under.
Lastly, every effective manager has to assign tasks to their team according to the strengths and individual capabilities of each team member. Dividing tasks like this helps managers to make their teams more productive and efficiently use the time at hand. It also enables the team to anticipate challenges and prepare accordingly.
When you segregate your tasks using the time management matrix, you have more control over your approach, the process and also the progress. Futureward thinking is expected in managers, understanding priority will make all the difference between a good and a great manager. This way of prioritising tasks will help you get better at your job and life in general.
The current scenario of HR and priority
Let's just dive into it without any build-up. Usually, most employees tend to prioritize tasks using only the urgency parameter. This is where they get stuck, it’s almost as if you are stuck with a high-interest credit card. You keep working to pay off the growing interest, never able to make it around to clearing the principle. Even when you work yourself to the bone, you are hardly making a dent.
Some tasks are both urgent and important, even while less in number, they do exist. Tasks like returning customer calls, client servicing or dealing with immediate staff issues fall under this category. These tasks can have an immediate effect on your business if not taken care of as they appear.
In other cases, you are in a bigger setting with more teams, collaboration is part and parcel of your daily function. This is when you unwillingly completing tasks that you have given a different priority value. Sometimes, you might be required to complete a task for a colleague that is typically not on top of your list but tagged as urgent.
These urgent but not so important tasks only help in draining both your time and energy. They take your focus away from the things from things that are important but not necessarily urgent. For instance, you might get stuck helping a colleague with something minor while you could have been drawing up and reviewing a better business plan.
Planning urgent and important tasks for HR success
There is a direct correlation between how business and organisations manage their people and policies. It defines what it means for their individual and collective success. Most HR departments handle HR activities like recruiting, leave scheduling, addressing immediate staff issues etc. effectively using new-age HR tech.
However, many other important HR tasks fall under the category of important but not urgent tasks. This takes a toll on the HR department because they are busy handling day to day activities and cannot give important tasks the attention they deserve.
Fortunately, the tasks that fall in the important but not urgent quadrant, are the ones that often add great value to your operation. These can be the differentiating factor between you and a competitor. What you prioritise and how you manage your people can make all the difference and provide your business with an edge over your competitor.
In conclusion, there's no real line drawn that explains the divide between urgent and important tasks. It’s you who has to make the decisions, stay focused on important things that matter to you and give them the time they deserve. While it might not be critically urgent, in the interest of your future success, learn and use the time management matrix to your advantage. If you are an HR professional, there are many great software platforms out there that help you plan and implement tasks for better time and resource management.