Time-Sensitive v. Urgent

I remember a request long ago being described as “not urgent, but time-sensitive.”

It’s worth piecing apart those two phrases, and differentiating between them in our speech.

Urgent items are usually time-sensitive. You must complete this vitally important project within a short time-frame.

Time-sensitive items aren’t always urgent. It’s important to complete certain menial tasks within a window of time, but the tasks may not qualify as life-or-death urgent.

Can things be urgent and not time-sensitive? Yes! Consider the scale of global climate change. While the problem is urgent, it’s easy to view it as not time-sensitive, since it will play out over multiple human generations. Or in the choral field, consider programming next year’s repertoire. It’s urgent (it absolutely must be done), but not time-sensitive (we don’t need it tomorrow, yet).

It’s important, then, to differentiate between (1) urgent & time-sensitive, (2) urgent & not time-sensitive, and (3) time-sensitive but not urgent.

If you have to prioritize your tasks, I would prioritize in that order. But too often we prioritize in this order: (1)/(3)….(2 – if possible).

When we prioritize that way, our urgent projects get postponed until they become time-sensitive…and we can never get ahead.