Put First Things First: Combat procrastination

John Cousins
February 7, 2023
2 min read
Put first things first

“What is urgent is seldom important and what is important is seldom urgent.”

- Dwight D. Eisenhower


Triage is a medical term for assigning degrees of urgency to injuries and illnesses. Its a technique used in emergency rooms and battlefield hospitals to make sure the most in need get care the quickest. In many cases time can be of the essence.


We want to determine the order for dealing with tasks according to their relative importance. Its sequencing first things first.

In many cases our brains fool us by conflating urgency and importance and we end up doing minor tasks that seem urgent but are of little long range importance. And we allow the important life changing projects to languish. This is a form of procrastination.

“Courage and perseverance have a magical talisman, before which difficulties disappear and obstacles vanish into air.”

John Quincy Adams

Eisenhower Box

Here is a great tool for organizing tasks and projects along two dimensions: urgency and importance. This is the third of Steven Covey’s Seven Habits of Highly Effective People. This is a book very much well worth reading and referring to.

Put first things first

This 2X2 matrix will help keep you focused on what most needs your attention. Eyes on the Prize.

If integrity is about doing what you say, this box will help you prioritize what you say and what you do.

Nothing in this world can take the place of persistence. Talent will not: nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not: the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent. The slogan “Press on” has solved and always will solve the problems of the human race.

- Calvin Coolidge

Here is another post to help you “Press on”!

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John Cousins
Author, Entrepreneur, & Teacher

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