Priority Setting: The Urgent vs. Important Model

Priority Setting: The Urgent vs. Important Scale 

In July, we talked about 6 tips to lessen your stress as an interior designer - if you missed it, click here

This month, we are going to talk about the "URGENT VS. IMPORTANT" model that I use with my design team.

As you can see, there are four "quadrants", so I broke them down as to when they happen, examples of what causes then, and our goal to get out of the ones who do not feed our joy. This is a great model to use in your interior design office when focusing on productivity and efficiency! (Ditto for teaching your kids how to cut through all of the noise and get productive.)


(1) Important, Not Urgent

This is the quadrant where you get the "juice" out of your job! These are the elements that matter the most in your work and in life. This is where you are fulfilled and what provides you with happiness. This is the ACTUAL interior design work and creating those details.

In an ideal world, we would spend all of our time here, but other things come up and get in the way. 

Our Goal in Business: Ideally, you would spend 65% of your time here. Staying in this "zone" would make you soooo over the moon happy that you wouldn't even know what to do with yourself! 

(2) Urgent and Important

Your website goes down. Your contractor calls and there is a broken pipe and you need to get there IMMEDIATELY. You have a flat tire. You're late on paying some bills... you get the idea. 

These are emergencies that DEMAND your attention and cannot be planned. 

Our Goal: Plan ahead and try to anticipate what lies ahead. Make it a discipline to do it. DON'T wait until the last minute to pay those bills and always make sure you have a spare tire in your trunk.

(3) Urgent, Not important

Meet the zone we live in where we are stressed out. If you're like me, we spend A LOT of our time here. This is writing the to-do lists without any action plan or focus on real achievement. 

These are the daily interruptions from people walking in and answering the phone when you're in the zone. This is the stuff that gets you out of wack that might not be urgent.

My Tip: AVOID LIVING HERE - even when you're tired. If there is no real result from the end, then move on from the busywork. No more than 10% of your life should be wasted here.  

(4) Not Urgent, Not Important

When we are stressed, we spend our time making lists (quadrant #3)... But when we are EXHAUSTED, we spend our time right here. We are SO EXTREMELY TIRED that we spend our time doing stuff that isn't urgent or important.

These things make us feel accomplished because they are easy and we can easily avoid the heavy thinking.

I hate to break it to you, but most of the time, this stuff doesn't need to get done at that time, we are just doing it because we feel like we NEED to be doing something. You know when you are soooo tired we aren't even thinking straight?

Need some examples? Constantly scrolling and scrolling and scrolling through Instagram and Facebook... or repeatedly refreshing our email (as if that is actually going to do something). Is anyone else a bored eater?

My Tip: Everyone needs a chance to "veg out" - but maybe DON'T veg out while continuing to do work so that the exhaustion isn't driving you.


So. What do you think? Can you shift your thoughts and identify what quadrant your various tasks fall into and categorize them accordingly? It's a highly effective practice. And by "practice" I mean that you'll continually be working on it and sometimes not doing so well...and other times just killing it. Give yourself grace and continue to work toward the "Important not Urgent" quadrant as much as possible. This is where joy and satisfaction live!

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