Urgent or important
Big Business
Urgent or important
Urgent or important
Sole Trader

Urgent or important
A mechanism for helping you prioritise your workload

The big idea

Probably one of the most common complaints that people make in relation to their work is that there is not enough time in the day. Managing your time well means being effective as well as efficient: there is no point having endless ‘to do’ lists if your main focus is on the urgent and not the important. The Eisenhower approach to time management is a value-based approach, which encourages you to move away from everyday ‘fire fighting’ to growing your business. In case the distinction is not clear:

  • Important activities produce an outcome that helps you achieve your goals
  • Urgent activities demand your immediate attention and are more likely to help achieve someone else’s goals. An urgent activity is like a screaming child: it demands attention because the consequences of not dealing with it are immediate

Many of the problems associated with a full agenda result from our inability to discern what is urgent from what is important. Building on Eisenhower’s approach, David Covey (1990) introduced the Urgent/Important Matrix in his book, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People.


Using the matrix encourages you to stop and think carefully about your time and your priorities. It is aimed at helping you to do the right things right, at the right time.

The Tool

The tool takes you through five simple steps to creating your urgent/important matrix. It is designed as an individual tool but you can use it as a team for joint projects. It will take about an hour to use it in depth.