“What is important is seldom urgent, and what is urgent is seldom important.” – Dwight Eisenhower

We all seem fixated at one point or another about what’s urgent and our main priorities seem all jammed up in the expediency of the moment. As we shuffle around our activities at home, in the office, in some group or community work of a sort we come across having to make a move for our priorities and what’s urgent on our agenda, their outcomes have serious impact on our growth and success. If you’re checking your email so often that it’s preventing you from getting any actual work done, then you’re confusing the urgent with the important. Doing so will ultimately drain your energy and leave you with little to show for it at the end.

Dictionary.com defines urgent as “compelling or requiring immediate action or attention; imperative; pressing.” Many of the boardroom decisions require urgent attention and delivery and will require management and boards stick their necks out to get them done. A complaint from a dissatisfied client/customer needs the urgent attention from management to resolve it. Falling share price of the company on the stock market will push management to the edge of their seats to quickly allay some confidence to investors and shareholders alike that, it’s on top of issues and that requires urgency in dealing with it. On a more personal level; being a habitual latecomer to business and board meetings needs urgent fix to assure you of promotion on the corporate ladder. You may urgently need to take a course to assume a new role in the office, completion of a business presentation to a group of investors may also need to be done urgently. 

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Urgent means a task requires immediate attention, putting you in a reactive mode, You become defensive, negative, hurried, and narrowly-focused. It makes the adrenalin in you work faster. Management gurus over the years have posited urgent task should be handled by coolheaded folks since the reactive mode it brings alone can be damaging in the long run if not properly handled. 


Tasks that appear here should be important but not urgent. They may have no specific deadline, or a deadline that is a long way off. If there is no deadline, you may never get around to them, or you may wait until the deadline is very close and resort to crisis management to get them done. Important tasks contribute to your long-term mission. Sometimes important tasks are also urgent, but typically they’re not. Focusing on important tasks puts you in a responsive mode, which keeps you calm, collected, and inventive.


Tasks that are important but not urgent are in danger of being deferred. Critical functions that relate to long-term effectiveness, such as strategic planning and progress reviews, often fall into this category. It is often the non-urgent nature of these tasks, combined with the slightly daunting prospect of tackling them, that leads to them being constantly delayed.

Take control of these tasks; set aside time to address them and break them down into manageable chunks.

Dwight Eisenhower the 34th President of the most powerful country on earth- The United States Of America from 1953 until 1961, nailed it when he posited that, “What is important is seldom urgent, and what is urgent is seldom important.” The quote shows how Eisenhower distinguished between urgency and importance, an understanding that’s critical for anyone who wants their hours worked to actually advance their careers. Bringing to the Presidency his prestige as commanding general of the victorious forces in Europe during World War II, Dwight D. Eisenhower obtained a truce in Korea and worked incessantly during his two terms (1953-1961) to ease the tensions of the Cold War. Obviously such a feat was achieved because the five star general understood and was able to distinguish between the urgency and importance of the cold war. 

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URGENT (Demand your attention right now — daily deadlines, emails from your boss, and colleagues)

Booking a flight, sharing an article, answering a phone call

·         IMPORTANT(Contribute to your long-term goals — staying fit, getting financially secure, advancing your career)


Saving for the future, getting enough exercise, sleeping your seven to nine hours a night

As productivity blogger James Clear says, “the best way to rid ourselves of the busy-all-the-time feeling is to simply do fewer things. Which can be difficult to do given the nature of habits and a desire to avoid the difficult question of do I really need to be doing this?” 


By: Paa Swanzy-Essuman || Ghanatalksbusiness.com