Difference between Urgent and Important

difference between urgent and important

Urgent vs Important

A lot of people struggle to understand the difference between what is urgent and what is important. It is very important to understand the difference between urgent and important because it will affect one’s decision making in every sphere of life. Distinguishing between urgent and important will increase productivity in both professional and personal life.

But, before distinguishing between what is urgent and what is important, it is necessary to understand why people confuse or struggle to distinguish between urgent and important. This is because people do not understand what to focus on and how much and for how much time. Also, proper time management, priority management and a proper mental health will automatically help people to differentiate between urgent and important.

  • Important activities have an outcome that leads to us accomplishing our goals, whether these are professional or personal.
  • Urgent activities demand immediate attention, and are usually associated with achieving someone else’s goals. They are often the ones we concentrate on and they demand attention because the outcomes of not managing them are quick.

Understanding Urgent and Important Tasks

Urgent tasks: Urgent tasks are those which need immediate attention. The urgency of tasks depends on deadlines. Urgent things need focus right at the moment. Urgent things are those which you have to do.

Important Tasks: Important tasks are those which have to be done on a regular basis which affect our long-term goals, strategies and our whole lives. Important things need focus throughout. Important things are those which you want to do.

But, often people get stuck with what is urgent and which is important. If this confusion gets sorted, then according to priority, we will be able to distinguish between the two.

A table is created as an easy way to understand the difference between urgent and important activities:

Depends on external factors like deadlines, workloadDepends on introspection.
Requires immediate attentionRequires consistent attention, dedication 
Make one do what is to be completed for the sake of deadlinesMake one do things that will have noteworthy changes in your entire life
What you have to do What you want to do

Few Examples of Urgent and Important Events

Both explaining and understanding anything with the help of examples is always easier. Let’s look into some examples to differentiate between urgent and important with ease.

An example related to the professional world:  Suppose there is a big project that a company received and the company is expected to complete it within an year. The people related to the project thinks that since there is an year to complete it, they do start the work and do it on a regular basis. Soon, it’s just 3 months left for the company to complete the project or it will face huge losses. So, then, completing the project within three months becomes an urgency. Whereas, if they would have worked towards it from the very beginning consistently, and considered it as important to work over the project on a regular basis, they could have completed the project within time, with no rush, no extra pressure, no stress and less workload. In that case, the project would have been more well channelized, well planned towards long time goals.

An example related to Academics: There is a big exam that you need to qualify to become a professor. You want to be a professor desperately. And let’s say before the exam you get 8 eight months to qualify it. So, you should be preparing well for it consistently on a regular basis because its important to lock your chances of grabbing a spot in the exam. But, suppose you think that there are eight months left, huge time is there and you don’t consider it important to study on a regular basis and then before one month of the exam you start preparing for it —– now it becomes an urgency.

An example related to personal life: Say, you give your partner no time for work load. You think that he or she will be with you your entire life time and you will get plenty of time to spend with him or her but it’s more urgent now to focus on only your job. Slowly, with time both of you grow a lot apart and things start to fall apart.  But, suppose, one day your partner passes away suddenly, and then you realize that it is important to spend time with your partner on a regular basis, even if it’s only half an hour. The thing you consider urgent made you blind towards what actually was important. 

So, It is very important to have proper time management in life to understand what is urgent and what is important. If one cannot manage their time efficiently as well as effectively then of course people are bound to get confused between urgent and important things which will affect their quality and productivity in life.

Urgent things can be important and unimportant, similarly, the other way round is also true, so you have to manage time, prioritize your activities and you will be all good to go to differentiate between what is urgent and what is important to you.

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