In a world of urgency, important things so often get ignored or pushed aside.
One of the things that has helped me to understand how to be more productive and less stressed was discovering the power of urgent versus important. Simply learning how to categorize the many things coming my way has given me much clarity in life.
Since becoming a father a little over a year ago, it’s become increasingly important to know how to balance life. The following four categories certainly aren’t something I came up with, but they have been extremely helpful in teaching me how to balance my life.
FOUR CATEGORIES FOR HOW YOU’RE SPENDING YOUR TIME
Urgent & Important – Stressful
When things in your life are both urgent and important, they cause stress in your life.
It’s very simple. If something is important you’re emotionally invested in its success. If something is urgent, then you have no margin to ensure success and excellence. Somethings are inherently important and urgent, but many times we procrastinate until something important BECOMES urgent.
TIP – Don’t procrastinate on important things! When it comes to important things, always make sure you have enough margin that you don’t fall into the trap of urgency.
Urgent & Not Important – Distractions
In a world where email, text messages, push notifications, news updates, and status updates all come directly to our phones, most of us are surrounded by things which urgently demand our attention, but which aren’t particularly important.
People become addicted to Facebook or Twitter because they don’t want to miss something. They feel compelled to keep checking. It’s entirely based on a sense of urgency but, if we’re being honest, there aren’t that many IMPORTANT things which happen on Facebook.
When something urgently demands our attention, but it isn’t important, it’s a distraction. It keeps you away from doing important things.
TIP – Pre-determine times during the work day that you’re going to check your email. Otherwise, you find yourself breaking concentration from something important simply to return an unimportant email because it feels urgent.
Not Urgent & Not Important – Time Wasters
Don’t get me wrong, there’s nothing wrong with watching TV or playing video games. We all need ways to rest and relax. There’s nothing wrong with that. However, moderation and intentionality are the key.
TIP – Plan out your recreation time in advance
Not Urgent But Important – The Sweet Spot
This is where productivity thrives. This is when you will feel fulfillment instead of stress. One of the best ways to remove stress from your life is to do important things BEFORE they become urgent.
Our soul thrives when we know we’re doing something which matters, but so often we wait until things become urgent to do them. When that happens, the stress of urgency robs us of the joy of doing something that matters.
Likewise, when we do things before they’re urgent, we have time to adjust and improve things. When you do something at the last minute, you’re forced to go with your first draft. When you do things before they’re urgent, you have margin to tweak things.
- Know what is important so you can make proper priorities daily.
- Use a reminder system to give you a daily sense of urgency on important projects. This will give you the positive affects of urgency minus the stressful side.
- Apply these principles to other aspects of your life. Spending time with your family is extremely important, but if you wait until it becomes urgent, you will have done extreme amounts of damage to the most important relationships in you life.
HOMEWORK ASSIGNMENT – Audit Your Time
Take a week and simply write down what you did with your time. Simply record everything you do. It doesn’t need to be detailed. Just a simple list of what you did and how much time you spent doing it.
Then, go back through the list and decide which of the four categories each block of time falls into.