Urgent items are things that must get done “or else”. Urgency implies that there will be consequences to inaction. Important items receive priority over other items. Importance implies significance among a group. Finally, a crisis is an urgent item that you let get so far out of control that there is serious risk of negative consequences (like a verbal beating from the boss).
Important items become urgent items when an outside force acts upon them. That outside force could be time, it could be another individual (such as a boss or a customer) or it could be a convergence of events.
My point: Urgency is most often created when other factors influence issues that already exist. Experience helps us anticipate which issues are prone to this type of transformation.
My question: Once you have identified an issue that could become urgent, do you do anything about it before it becomes a crisis?
See Seth’s Blog for more on this topic.