BNI Education Moment: The Eisenhower Principle

In 1954, Dwight Eisenhower gave a speech to the Second World Council of Churches and said “I have two kinds of problems: the urgent and the important. The urgent are not important, and the important are never urgent.”

The Eisenhower Principle breaks down tasks into two categories: Important & Urgent. Important activities have an outcome that leads to us achieving 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 consequences of not dealing with them are immediate.

We have a natural tendency to focus on unimportant and urgent activities which doesn’t leave enough time for important activities essential for success.

Prioritize Tasks in order: Important & Urgent => Important & Not Urgent => Not Important but Urgent => Neither important nor urgent.

Important & Urgent: There are two distinct types of urgent and important activities: ones that you could not have foreseen, and others that you've left until the last minute. A lot of these is a sign of procrastination.

Important & Not Urgent: These are the activities that help you achieve your personal and professional goals, and complete important work. Leave enough time to do properly so they don’t become urgent.

Not Important but Urgent: Urgent but not important tasks are things that prevent you from achieving your goals. Ask yourself whether you can reschedule or delegate them. Other people are general source of urgent & not important. Try to politely decline or set aside time to deal with them all at once.

Not Important & Not Urgent: Try to avoid these tasks as much as possible. Ignore or cancel them. These are purely a distraction.