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Hope

Prioritizing in a Period of Uncertainty

We are in the midst of an unprecedented black swan event – the Covid-19 pandemic. It has created uncertainty across the world, the scale of which has never been seen since the Spanish Influenza outbreak over a century ago. One look at the latest Covid-19 outbreak and how it has impacted the world looks like this:

Source: Bing

Covid-19 outbreak and the subsequent lockdown has resulted in a sudden, drastic change to the working habits of millions of people. The hardest hit have been the many people who live on daily wages, gig economy, service industry etc., who have seen their pay checks evaporate overnight. The impact on small businesses cannot be understated. For the fortunate people who still have a job and are entrusted with ensuring the economic momentum, this lockdown has forced them into embracing the change of working from home. With more or less the same work load, the traditional ways of working has been upended forcing people to use new tools and methods. This uncharted territory has underlined the need to prioritize more than ever before.

Dwight D. Eisenhower was one of the most accomplished two-term American presidents of his time with accomplishments including the victory in Normandy, first commander of NATO, developer of the Interstate Highway system including many others. In an commencement address, he once said:

I have two kinds of problems, the urgent and the important. The urgent are not important, and the important are never urgent.

Dwight D. Eisenhower
UrgentImportant
Something that you are forced to do immediatelySomething that you know should be done at a given point of time

President Eisenhower is known for The Eisenhower Matrix which is a simple prioritization matrix that provides a tool to demarcate urgent and important tasks as shown below.

The Eisenhower Matrix

Making a list of all the tasks in a given day and plotting them in the matrix as shown, the user is provided with a simple prioritization model. This model helps in being effective and efficient especially in an ambiguous time such as now.

We live in a terrifyingly uncertain time – the likes of which very few living people today has seen in their lifetime. Normally black swan events impact only a certain population of the world – for e.g., Arab Spring, Gulf War, Fort Mcmurray fires etc. Here the entire living population of the world is affected. Thus prioritization in professional and personal lives especially when swathes of population are ‘locked down’ in their homes becomes paramount.

Eventually when we see the light at the end of the tunnel, prioritization provides us with an opportunity to be better persons than we were before.

unsplash-logoPaul Skorupskas

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