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10 Ways to Handle NonUrgent but Important Tasks

Your future self will thank you
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Do you often find yourself wishing for more hours in the day? It’s a common sentiment; time is a finite resource, yet it seems some people stretch it further than others.

If you’re caught in a cycle of only ticking off the most pressing items on your weekly agenda — merely surviving rather than thriving — it’s time to explore new time management techniques.

Mastering the art of time management can empower you to accomplish not just the urgent tasks but also those significant, yet non-urgent, ones that contribute to your long-term goals, all within a 168-hour week. Effective time management can also be a powerful antidote to procrastination, prompting you to tackle important tasks earlier.

What are NonUrgent but Important Tasks?

Put most simply, non-urgent but important tasks are those that don’t require immediate attention but are significant for long-term success and fulfillment. Looking a little deeper, non-urgent but important tasks are defined by the Eisenhower Matrix, which categorizes all tasks into four categories: urgent and important, urgent and not important, not urgent but important, and not urgent and not important.

The Matrix defines urgent but important tasks as those with deadlines or consequences; you must do this task ASAP or face repercussions. Urgent and not important tasks are those that you can delegate, ensuring they get done quickly, but without needing to handle them yourself. Not urgent but important tasks are those that don’t have deadlines but are crucial to your long-term success. Not urgent and not important tasks are those that you can remove from your life without any negative consequences.

So, what does a non-urgent but important task look like specifically? Your personal, non-urgent but important tasks might include:

  • Long-term project planning
  • Exercise
  • Relationship building to foster strong connections with colleagues
  • Mindfulness practices
  • Bonding time with family
  • Developing skills through a course
  • Routine healthcare checks

For example, there’s no deadline for exercising. If you don’t exercise today, you won’t face any major repercussions. However, you may, long-term, face major repercussions if you stop exercising completely for multiple years.

Similarly, there’s no deadline or immediate, major consequences if you don’t spend quality time with family or friends. However, if you neglect this long-term, you may find yourself with lackluster relationships.

Learning how to prioritize these tasks, and approach them effectively, will help you master time management. Here’s how it’s done.

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10 Ways to Handle NonUrgent But Important Tasks

Here are 10 practical ways to handle non-urgent but important tasks to make the most of your limited time.

1. Schedule It In

It’s easy to put something off repeatedly if there’s no deadline or scheduled time for that task. Schedule your non-urgent but important tasks, putting them on your calendar so that it’s more difficult to ignore them. Don’t just say you’ll take care of these tasks “sometime this week” or “sometime this month,” though. Be more specific. Set aside time on an exact day, at an exact time. Then, don’t allow any other tasks to encroach on that scheduled time.

2. Prioritize

Some non-urgent but important tasks are more important than others. Use prioritization methods to determine which are most critical to your long-term success, and then focus on those tasks first. For example, if you know that attending a skills workshop and attending a networking event will help your career progress, but you have evidence that the networking event offers a greater ROI for your time, then prioritize the networking event over the skills workshop.

3. Set Deadlines

While these non-urgent but important tasks may not have external deadlines set by your boss or another entity, setting your deadlines can create a sense of urgency and help prevent procrastination.

4. Avoid Procrastination

Do you seem to procrastinate on these tasks repeatedly? Putting them off until the end of the day, at which point you decide to put them off until the next day, at which point you do the same thing?

Avoid procrastination by using the “eat the frog first” approach. Do the thing you least want to do, first. If you’re procrastinating on getting in a meditation session, for example, don’t want to meditate until the end of the day; do it as soon as you wake up, knowing that you must complete this task before you can approach any others.

5. Remind Yourself of Long-term Goals

Use mindfulness to maintain your focus on your long-term goals. Put up vision boards and inspirational notes to remind yourself of where you want to be, and what it takes to get there. Then, you’ll be more likely to remember those non-urgent but important tasks, and how they relate to the future you envision for yourself.

6. Utilize Technology

If you have difficulty managing your calendar, utilize digital tools and apps that can help you, as well as habit-tracking tools that can ensure you’re making progress toward your long-term goals.

7. Regularly Review

Regularly assess your goals and their related tasks on a weekly or monthly basis. This practice ensures that these objectives remain at the forefront of your mind and allows you to fine-tune your strategy as necessary.

8. Reflect on the Long-term Impact

When it seems difficult to work up the motivation to prioritize your non-urgent but important tasks, remind yourself of the long-term impact each day’s work will have, and the small but vital benefits you’ll experience by completing them.

9. Reward Yourself

Sustain your motivation and morale by implementing a system of rewards. Offer yourself a form of positive reinforcement upon the completion of each non-urgent yet important task, making the effort feel immediately worthwhile, despite the long-term nature of the ultimate payoff.

10. Check in with a Coach

Finally, partnering with a coach to establish goals and pinpoint the essential tasks to achieve them can provide a layer of accountability and steady advancement. Regular check-ins and the dedicated oversight of another person monitoring your progress—or noting any stagnation—can be instrumental in your journey.

The Bottom Line

By incorporating these time management strategies for important but non-urgent tasks into your workflow, you can ensure that they receive the attention they deserve, contributing to your overall productivity and success.

Looking for additional help with time management? Schedule a free consultation call with an Arootah Executive Coach to learn more.

Get practical strategies you can apply for personal and professional growth. Sign up for The Weekly Return newsletter today.

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Disclaimer: This article is for general informational purposes only and is not intended to be and should not be taken as professional medical, psychological, legal, investment, financial, accounting, or tax advice. Arootah does not warrant or guarantee the accuracy, reliability, completeness, or suitability of its content for a particular purpose. Please do not act or refrain from acting based on anything you read in our newsletter, blog or anywhere else on our website.

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