How Galia Kerbel Prioritises Urgent From Important

How Galia Kerbel Prioritises Urgent From Important


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Galia Kerbel opened her award-winning PR and communications agency in 2006. In a competitive and low barrier to entry market, customer service and delivering exceptional campaigns are critical to staying in business.

Kerbel believes her business success has come from two important business philosophies: Understanding the difference between urgent and important, and focusing your energy on things within your control.

Related: Use the ‘Eisenhower Box’ to Stop Wasting Time and Be More Productive

How do you start your day to set yourself up for maximum productivity?

Every morning I assess my priorities for the day. My staff do it too, even the most junior people have a priority list.

During our weekly status meetings we lay on the table what needs to be done and by when.  It helps determine what’s urgent versus important on a whole and on an individual basis, and it ensures the best results are delivered to clients on time.

I also ensure my day is properly structured: My urgent matters are attended to first, and if an employee has an urgent matter that needs my assistance, I help them with it so they’re not held back.

I then block off time for specific, deadline-driven projects, and make sure there aren’t more than two or three meetings booked for the day. Between those blocks of time, I attend to reactive things that inevitably come up.

Explain your ‘urgent versus important’ philosophy


I had an amazing mentor, Marcus Brewster, who I worked for as COO in Cape Town and Joburg before I started my own business. He gave me huge insight into business, but my biggest take-away from him that I use in business every day is understanding the difference between ‘urgent’ and ‘important’.

President Eisenhower distinguished between them and it’s known as the Eisenhower Decision Principle: ‘What is important is seldom urgent and what is urgent is seldom important.’

Urgent tasks need your immediate attention, put you into a reactive mode and narrow your mind-set.

Important tasks are things that contribute to a long-term vision and mission, and this mode puts you into a responsive mind-set that helps with spotting opportunities. This greater insight has helped me balance the different hats I need to wear in my business.

What is your tactic for saving time with email?

Emails aren’t my favourite form of communication and they can take up a lot of time. I attend to urgent emails as soon as I can, and for important emails I always acknowledge I’ve received them even if I have to get back to them later.

I also find it’s more productive to have a ten minute phone call rather than spend 30 minutes writing one email and needing multiple mails between a number of people.

Client service and relationships are key in the PR industry, and email chains can be frustrating and alienating. Just pick up the phone, engage and involve. Then send one email with the notes as a record.

Related: The 5 Tools for Entrepreneurs on the Go

Tracy Lee Nicol
Tracy-Lee Nicol is an experienced business writer and magazine editor. She was awarded a Masters degree with distinction from Rhodes university in 2010, and in the time since has honed her business acumen and writing skills profiling some of South Africa's most successful entrepreneurs, CEOs, franchisees and franchisors.Find her on Google+.