Kevin D Thompson – Importance/Urgency Prioritization Graph

Importance/Urgency Prioritization Graph

Importance/Urgency Prioritization Graph

What is this?

This graph visually plots work tasks into 4 Quadrants based upon the Importance and Urgency of the task.

Why is this important?

A common problem for workers is they fail to engage in important work with enough regularity. Too often, important work is put off while attending to Urgent yet Unimportant work giving one the illusion they are being productive. Having a visual aid to help with assigning priority to our work or assessing the work we are doing is much like having a gauge to help us navigate.

As you look at the graph below, you may recognize the magnetism of Quadrant 3 for many people and maybe even yourself. Dr. Steven R. Covey talked about the common misperception that it is ideal for us to spend the majority of time engaged in Quadrant 1 work. Why is that wrong?

Quadrant 1 work will eventually (sooner or later) cause a worker to "burn out". Make no mistake, Quadrant 1 work must be done now, it is much like firefighting in that you simply cannot put it off without getting burned. What is ideal? Spending the majority of our time in Quadrant 2 - working on Important tasks that have not yet become Urgent fires will yield the greatest productivity.

With regard to Quadrant 3 and 4, I somewhat differ from the popular assessments in that I believe the only reason for people to engage in a Quadrant 3 task is because their company has not yet been able to automate it or eliminate it. Quadrant 4 is in reality - break time - it is not work at all.



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