The Tyranny of Urgency

We have all lived in the stress of “Tyranny of Urgency”. The chart below illustrates the interaction of Urgent and Important tasks. Most people live on the top side of quadrants 1 and 3 focusing most of their time on Urgent tasks that may or may not be Important. In an ideal situation, this would change to focusing on the left side of Important tasks in quadrants 1 and 2. Even better would be a large portion of time spent in quadrant 2 on tasks that are Important but not Urgent.


Think how that would lower your stress level. To be most effective this must be applied to all aspects of your life including job, family, recreation, personal interactions, spiritual, church, exercise, personal time, etc. The question immediately arises how can we change from a top side Urgency focused life to a left side Importance focused life.

The first step is to pray that God will give you the guidance, wisdom, courage, and persistence necessary to make dramatic changes in your life. See   Steps to Daily Living and Decision Making for help. Involve other family members if possible.

The second step is to develop a “Life Vision”. This Vision will be long-term and what we want “To Be” not the tasks we do on a daily basis to accomplish this Vision. You may say how can I possibly know my long-term Vision in today’s fast-changing world? The answer is the Vision must be high level, conceptual and not detailed. The Life Vision provides guidance in assigning relative importance to daily tasks.

I have had 3 “Life Visions” developed in 1950, 1986 and 2014. You can read about them in my January 9, 2015 post “Life Vision/Purpose” (A). Although I had a Life Vision I have not usually had detailed strategies or action steps for specific time periods in my life. In my Life Vision, I lived one day at a time (B). This probably sounds strange for a Strategic Planning Consultant (C). The difference is an organization must have many people buy into the Vision and work together to implement Strategies and Action Steps and held accountable by benchmarks. In “Tags” below click on “Life Vision” for other posts in this series that will be helpful in developing your Life Vision.

The third step is to inventory your life for a week or month and identify the individual tasks where you are spending time and assigning a quadrant 1-4. Then comes the really hard part, planning ahead enough to move Important tasks from Urgent to not Urgent and also eliminating most of the tasks in the not Important column. Both of these will be harder than you think, but nothing is impossible with God’s help.

By accomplishing these 3 steps and constantly Reviewing, Revising and Refocusing our daily tasks we can become a person working on the most Important tasks to meet our Life Vision.

I have not always been perfect in this approach to life but I am depending on God’s greater grace every day.

Henry Luke April 8, 2015, revised 3/9/2017
Footnotes: A- My Life Vision
B- Red Sea Rules
C- Profile Henry Luke 1986
D- The Problem Solving Cycle

In “Tags” below click on “Life Vision” for other posts in this series.

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6 Responses to The Tyranny of Urgency

  1. Henry, I’ve seen that chart before and it’s very useful. I find “the world” will do its best to keep me in Quadrant 4 and that I must act purposefully to stay in Quadrants 1 and 2.

  2. Paul Rockliffe says:

    Sometimes “Urgent” can change faster than a woman can change her mind.
    A young married man is walking out the door on his way to work when his wife calls out and says “Honey don’t forget to put your pay check in the mail after work or the check we wrote last night will bounce.”

    On the way to the bank a car ran a red light hitting his car and killing him.

    Did the “Tyranny of the Urgent kill this guy? I don’t know. But I do know this. If we don’t have a Urgent in our “Spirtual Life” “We shall surly die”

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