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Important vs. Urgent Tasks

Updated: Feb 3, 2019

When you work for yourself, there is a great joy in knowing you are your own boss. You are probably also the marketing manager, bookkeeper, content developer, coach, and the technical support staff.

While this type of task juggling is to be expected for some time, you have to be aware that not all tasks are created equal. Marketing outweighs bookkeeping, for example, because without marketing, there will be no cash to manage. Yet, bookkeeping is important to ensure you are accountable for the money.

Not only that, but you have to consider how much time you’re spending in each area as well. If you spend all day tweaking the design on your website and put off sending an email to your list, what have you gained?

Sure, you might have a prettier website, but you lost an opportunity to drive traffic to your offer.

In an ideal world, you’d simply put on your CEO hat and delegate the rest, but here in the real world, we don’t always have that option. Instead, we have to work smarter, and take care how we’re spending our time.

Prioritize Your Daily Tasks

We all have different skills and sweet spots when it comes to the tasks we want and need to do. You might love customer support and hate bookkeeping, while someone else enjoys the numbers game and doesn’t like dealing with the help desk. Regardless of your personal preferences, one thing is certain: money-making tasks should be at the very top of your to-do list.

That might mean product creation, email marketing, client outreach, webinar development, or something entirely different. Identify those money-making tasks in your business and be sure to prioritize them every single day.

Know the Difference Between Important and Urgent

In his classic book, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, Stephen Covey recommends prioritizing tasks based on a time-management grid. Every task is assigned to a quadrant of the grid, based on whether it is urgent, important, both, or neither.

Important and Urgent Matrix by Steven Covey

Quadrant I – Tasks in this quadrant need to be completed immediately and deadlines that are looming.

Quadrant II – Tasks in this quadrant are used for long-term planning and strategy.

Quadrant III – Tasks in this quadrant are pressurized deadlines, often set by someone else. The tasks are not necessarily important, but someone else wants it now.

Quadrant IV – The tasks here do not yield a great amount of value. Tasks carried out here generally are time wasters used to distract from more urgent or important tasks.

Once you know where a task falls on the grid, you’ll immediately know what you should be working on. For example, marketing and planning are important but not urgent. A ringing phone is urgent, but not important. The sales page for your new program, which is launching tomorrow, is both urgent AND important.

So before you prioritize your daily to-do list, think about where each of your tasks falls in the quadrant, and schedule them accordingly. You can also consider outsourcing the tasks that need to be done, but are not value creators. Those tasks are different in every business, and will need to be evaluated according to your needs.

Will you always be working on the best task for right now? Probably not. Nor will you always use your time as wisely as you could. But by making a conscious effort to organize and prioritize your days, you’ll find it’s a lot less stressful and overwhelming to manage your small business.

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