الصفحات

30.5.12

Urgent vs. Important

Urgent

Do Urgent and Important have the same meaning? Are they synonyms? What's the difference and why they sometimes sound similar.

In our life, we repeatedly confuse urgency with importance. We, mistakenly, think that every important matter is necessarily urgent, and that every urgent matter is consequently important. However, only few things are both urgent and important.

An example of urgent issue is when you have a life-changing exam the next day and you have little knowledge of the subject. It would be urgent to spend the night studying, otherwise you'll fail the exam.

On the other hand, an example of an important issue would be to cultivate your knowledge in a certain area that has an impact on your work or your life. It is something that you don't do overnight, but rather it requires constant effort with clear objectives.

If you look at the previous 2 examples, you'll find that, in this case, both issues are important, whereas only the first issue is urgent. There are plenty of examples on non-important urgent things. Usually, non-important urgent matters are not urgent by nature. They became urgent by our own decisions, and we implicitly assume they are also important.

In his book, the 7 habits of highly effective people, Stephen Covey explains how successful people focus on important instead of urgent tasks. “Most of us spend too much time on what is urgent and not enough time on what is important.”, says Stephen.

Urgent/Important matrix as addressed by Stephen Covey
Urgent/Important matrix as addressed
by Stephen Covey

If all things are urgent, if all things have high priority, our life will turn into a mess. We wouldn't be able to know what things to do first. If we spend too much time in urgent matters, we will find little time to focus on the important issues that have lasting impact on our life.

We make this mistake in personal life and also at work. If we fail to prioritize and fail to know what things really deserve to be done first, we might end-up missing achieving crucial things because we've been too busy in doing  urgent issues that have no real value.

16.5.12

Reviewing The 4-Hour Workweek by Tim Ferriss


Do you work to live or live to work?

Many of us are struggling in the busy working days having no time even to answer this question. The rule of life that most of us is taking for granted is working from 9-5, taking a short vacation every one or two years and having our retirement at age 60 or so.

We work to bring enough money so we can get married and have children, and then send our children to good schools, so they have good education to be able to work after graduation in a good place that insures a good income, so they can get married and have children .... and repeat the cycle.

The 4-Hour Workweek suggests an alternative lifestyle design that adapts in a better way to our current time, the time of technology and mobility. Written by Tim Ferris, an entrepreneur himself, the book highlights a number of thoughts, activities and habits that allow us to produce more in less time.

The book includes several advises for entrepreneurs to help them save their time and money, in addition to valuable ideas in marketing and planning to help them target the right audience at the right time and providing the right service or product.

Not only the book targets businessmen and entrepreneurs, it also proposes a plenty of ideas and techniques for lifestyle improvement that anyone can benifit from.

What I take on the book is its English-style which, for someone who speaks English as a second language, I found it a little bit complicated. The first few chapters were a little bit boring till I reached chapter 5 The End of Time Management: Illusions and Italians, which I found as a commencement of the meat of the sandwich.

There's another thing that I disliked about Tim's style. It is that he sometimes leaves no place for personal choices. For example, when he suggested using a checklist or a tasks list, he imposed using a paper, not a computer software, explaining that he finds this better because it's easier to manage. For me, I find managing tasks in a computer software much easier. I concluded this by comparing his style to other authors in similar fields. Taking The7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen Covey as an example, I found that Stephen focuses on the core idea behind the suggestion and leaves the choice of implementation means to personal preferences.

As a final comment, the book composes great ideas and thoughts for employees who are looking for doing something beside their employment job so they can move on to their next plans, in addition to suggestions to people who want to stay in their jobs but also want to enhance their life style and jump to a next level in utilizing their time.
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