An undervalued truth is that the urgent is the enemy of the important. Think about that for a minute.
- Urgent chokes out the important
- Urgent is firefighting, important is building and improving
- Urgent is a cost center, important reduces costs or increases revenues
- Urgent is reactive, important is proactive
- Urgent is stressful, important is managed
How to Win the Battle Against Urgent
- Recognize that there is a battle.
- Always be vigilant. Urgent is like the Terminator, it never stops, it never sleeps, it feels no mercy, and it can look like important – don’t be fooled.
- Invest your time, don’t spend it. Invest your time on the important, don’t spend it on the urgent or frivolous.
- Use good time management techniques such as GTD and tools like Outlook.
- Have a game plan for each day. There is the occasional happy accident, but usually nothing important happens without thought and preparation.
- Create your game plan the night before. Review your to-do list and your calendar. Identify what is most important, what you can delegate, and what can wait or be eliminated. Identify the 2-3 most important things that you must accomplish each day.
- Timeshift what you can so you can focus on the important.
- Eliminate the need to constantly fight fires. Firefighting is a tax on an organization and proportionally reduces the amount of time that can be spent on the important.
The wonderful thing about this battle is that you can use this is information whether you are an organizational leader or not. Each one of us can make the choice to spend time on the urgent or on the important. We can choose to be a victim or to take responsibility for our day-to-day lives and our own future.
I hope this helps spur some thought on what is an often overlooked aspect of our lives. I’d love to hear how you wage your own personal battle, and I would especially love to hear what techniques and tools you use. Please leave me a comment, or chat with me @true62 on Twitter .