Separating Urgent from Important

January 2020

Effective condo boards separate urgent from important.

When making decisions affecting hundreds of individuals it can seem like everything is important – which it usually is to at least one individual.  This does not make the matter urgent and worthy of a condo board’s immediate attention.

Dwight Eisenhower, 34th President of the United States, was a highly productive individual who knew how to avoid wasting time.  He was a five-star general in the United States Army and Supreme Commander of Allied Forces during World War II.  He planned and executed invasions of North Africa, France and Germany.  His efforts as President led to the Interstate Highway System, launch of the internet (DARPA), space exploration (NASA), and non-war (peaceful) use of alternative energy (Atomic Energy Act).  Hobbies included painting and golf.

Many have studied how Dwight Eisenhower managed to remain so productive over a span of many decades.  His greatest productivity strategy is known as the Eisenhower Box, which he used for organizing tasks and making decisions.  Every task, action and decision is separated into one of four possibilities:

  1. Urgent and important (tasks you will do immediately)
  2. Important, but not urgent (tasks you will schedule to do later)
  3. Urgent, but not important (tasks you will delegate to someone else)
  4. Neither urgent nor important (tasks that you will eliminate)

Your condo board, like everyone else, is most effective when managing its workload.  This means establishing priorities frequently determined by urgency.  A resident or owner may seek immediate approval for renovation work because a contractor is scheduled for tomorrow.  Their urgency, arising from a failure to plan properly and obtain prior approval or reserve an elevator, is not an urgent matter for the board or management.  The board likely has more pressing matters, affecting more people, to address.

An artificial deadline created by a resident or owner does not constitute an urgent matter worthy of immediate attention by the condo board or management

An artificial deadline created by a resident or owner does not constitute an urgent matter worthy of immediate attention by the condo board or management.

Urgent matters worthy of immediate board action at a board meeting, via telephone or e-mail

  • Legal action against the condo corporation
  • Compliance with governing documents – Condo Act, declaration, by-laws, rules
  • Urgent repairs
  • Employee issues

Non-urgent matters tend to require a majority of condo board time.  Many require research and deliberation before decisions are made, with ongoing involvement:

  • Major projects
  • Budgets, assessments and other financial matters
  • Revisions to rules or by-laws
  • Dealing with contractors

Important non-urgent matters can escalate to urgent and thus move to the top of a decision making list