How to Choose –  SHOW NOTES

Season 1, Episode 6 : Urgent Decisions

Tessa Mudge & Ken Smith


In this episode, we talk about how to manage urgent pressures and explore the distinction between urgent and important.


We don’t need to try and optimise with every decision:

  • Urgency is usually expressed as scarcity – a scarcity of time (‘I need this ASAP’) or a scarcity of resources (‘Hurry up, stocks are limited!’
  • We are hardwired to respond to scarcity/urgency – it helped our ancestors to survive an imminent attack or grab scarce food resources
  • In the Urgent-Important matrix (popularised by Steven Covey in the great book ‘Seven Habits of Highly Effective People’) we see that urgent and important are not the same thing

Beware – if you worry too much about pleasing other people, then all of their urgent requests will also be important to you.


To learn more about the Urgent-Important matrix, check out this website.


Here are five questions to ask when presented with an urgent decision and before getting started.

  1. Pause and consider – Is the urgent decision also important? And is the urgency real, and not just manufactured to get you to respond?
  2. Are you the right person to respond? And if you’re the only person available, do you have the necessary skills for the job?
  3. What exactly is required? Make sure. you understand the ‘brief’ before you launch into action.
  4. What other resources do you have available (including people)?
  5. Presumably you were doing something when the urgent demand landed on your lap. Pause and think – Which of your tasks is the most important and urgent?

Take some time to think about how susceptible you are to the demands and distractions of the urgent. What impact is this having on your personal and professional life?

Chat with someone about this episode – it’s a great way to cement the lessons you’re learning.


Tune in for our next episode, when we’ll talk about those non-urgent – but still important – decisions.

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