Eisenhower’s Matrix: Shifting From ‘Urgent’ To ‘Non-Urgent’.

Transformation occurs when we learn to dissolve the feelings of ‘urgent’ to allow us to better focus on ‘important’.

I was raised in a farming family where we focused on getting the work done first and then we could have time to play. As I entered the workforce, became a mother and engaged in my community, I noticed that the work was never done. Everything was urgent. Everything was important. And it was my job to do it all.

I was yearning for more time and searching out ways to be more productive with how I ‘spent’ my time. I knew the importance of effective time management in order to achieve my goals. I learned about Eisenhower’s Matrix and how to divide my action items into the four quadrants based on ‘urgency’ and ‘importance’. I was tasked with scheduling and making better choices to allocate my time productively. I was challenged to assess my roles and prioritize what was important in my life: work, family and personal. The carrot that was offered was that I would become more effective.

Despite my knowledge of where I should spend my time, my actions were often hijacked by what I believed I had to do in the moment: someone needed a hand, someone in authority had a more important priority or I simply needed a break. (And yes, that was often to drink a glass of wine with a friend to share stories for validation that we were doing great.)

Despite reading the books and attending the workshops on managing time, I had difficulty focusing on outcomes, action plans, and schedules. It felt like added pressure. Things over which I had no control quickly ruined many of my best plans. I knew that time management was important but I felt as though other people determined my priorities. My feelings overruled my knowing.

So let’s step back for a moment.

When we are in survival mode, everything becomes ‘urgent’ and ‘important’. There is no room to consider any other perspective.

‘Urgent’ and ‘important’ are based on feelings. How do we judge ‘urgent’ and ‘important’? Based on our beliefs? Based on the beliefs of people of authority? Based on societal norms? We may think we are cognitively choosing what is important but our feelings are the key driver. Our thoughts, emotions, and sensations trigger our reactions and we automatically respond. When we are in survival mode, everything becomes ‘urgent’ and ‘important’. There is no room to consider any other perspective.  We do what needs to get done now. As our basic needs are met, the sense of urgency may diminish and what we consider to be important shifts. Our personal resources are more available for creative purposes.

We know ‘urgent’ and ‘important’ because we feel it. There is energy bound in the perceptions that trigger our emotions, thoughts, and sensations. The pounding heart, the thoughts of ‘do it now’ and the emotions of worry or fear. We may look to cognitively understand the response, however, these reactions are energetic forces. To shift from ‘urgent’ to the more productive ‘non-urgent’ state, we benefit from resolving these triggers.

The Logosynthesis® method of guided change offers a simple yet powerful tool to support this work. Developed by Dr. Willem Lammers, the technique guides us to process and resolve the perceptions that trigger the feelings of urgency. We react with thoughts, emotions, and sensations that result in a tightening, restriction or closed approach. As we neutralize the triggers, we can approach the same situation with a sense of calm and purpose … and interestingly, the issues of great urgency and importance in the moment may not be as critical when we sense calm.

I have been working with this method for the past five years and I apply the technique across all aspects of my life. I have many perceptions that influence my beliefs about what is ‘urgent’ and ‘important’. As I become aware of my reactions in specific situations, I can work with this information to peel away the layers. A shift occurs. I sense that I am more connected with what is truly ‘important’ because the ‘urgent’ has less control over my actions. And with that, I sense less of a need to plan and schedule my life because I feel more connected to my purpose.

Many of us are addicted to the adrenalin rush from ‘urgent’ and ‘important’ work. We feel validated because we work hard and notice results. However, as we learn to focus on ‘important’ from a ‘non-urgent’ perspective, we are better able to embrace our challenges with a sense of connection to our purpose. The shift is fascinating!


Cathy Caswell
Cathy Caswell
CATHY guides people to reduce stress, unlock their potential and enjoy life more fully using Logosynthesis. As a dietitian with an MBA, she enjoyed a corporate career in the food industry in production, marketing, and sales. She knows firsthand the benefits of being able to get unstuck from reactive patterns that negatively impact work, health, wealth, and relationships. As a Coach and President of The Healthy Living Plan Inc. and a Master Practitioner and Instructor in Logosynthesis®, she is committed to supporting leaders at all levels. Through online 1-1 coaching and now app-based remote coaching using the Essence Unlock Potential app, Cathy supports people to routinely use this healthy lifestyle practice to achieve their goals. Cathy is the author of Logosynthesis®: Enjoying Life More Fully and Thriving In Our Times: From Reactions To Action Using Logosynthesis®. 

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