Great at Urgent
Not so great at Important
Working at 100mph on auto-pilot we are great.
We become super-effective at getting lots done by becoming more and more efficient.
And in todays increasingly cluttered and busy environment, the brain craves short cuts for getting things done.
‘Doing the thing right’, without stopping to think about ‘doing the right thing’.
And this can feel like plate spinning, or firefighting – dealing with one emergency then the next.
Often we experience exceptionally busy times when it feels like we have no alternative other than to be in a reactive state.
Which gets the urgent stuff done.
And this won’t necessarily develop ourselves or the business in ways that are important to us.
Feeling we are making progress, developing or growing, can be important for the business, or personally for our well-being and sanity.
When we have a forced interruption to ‘business as usual’ – sleep walking (or running) – we can take the opportunity to stand back and assess a bigger perspective.
Whether you are extra busy now, or quieter, Stephen Covey in the classic
The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People has a useful distinction called ‘Organising and Executing around Priorities’
The more successful people have the discipline to keep taking actions that are not necessarily urgent, but important.
Important to look after my well-being.
Important to get those contracts in place for employees.
Important to get the new menus done for the overdue increase in prices.
Important stuff that’s a ‘can’ – kicked down the road until there’s more time, which there rarely is.
Until it becomes urgent.
Have a look at the grid below. Everything we do falls into one of 4 areas – depending on it’s level of importance / urgency;
Is your first box crammed with urgent and important actions that dominate your life?
Squeezing out any time for what’s important, and not urgent, (box 2), which will progress you or the business?
Now could be the opportunity to insert into box 2 something important / not urgent, a (…task) by (…date & time).
For something that’s important in the longer term, or an investment in the future.
Three simple steps work well;
1. Make the time first; to stop and think, engage the brain and maybe talk it out with someone to get clear on an important action.
2. Write it down; this creates a powerful commitment to ourselves (tip; for an important job, allocate time early in the day when our will power is greatest).
3. Communicate it; we raise the stakes when we tell others what we will do, because we don’t want to lose face, appear flaky or inconsistent.
Don’t kick that important can down the road. Pick it up, take an action, and acknowledge yourself for making progress today.