Stephen Covey, in his book The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, says that one of the traps of ineffective people is getting caught in doing the urgent rather than the important. Bottom-line this is reacting to life rather than responding. While urgent things will come up, they seem to happen more when you are not planning. Eventually, everything will become a crisis. STOP.
When you care for the important you will have less urgent things to deal with. There will always be truly urgent things, but these are called emergencies, not daily urgent tasks. Make a list and determine what is important for you to do to move forward with your business (or life). What do you need to do in order to accomplish these goals? This is what is important.
It often seems like it will not matter if important things get done today or tomorrow and therefore often are perpetually put off until they become urgent. It is similar to the bad habit many of us had in school with reading. The teacher gives us what is important to read each week. Students are busy and do not read what is important and then a few days before the test when there are 200 pages of reading, the assignment now becomes urgent. Thus the cycle begins as we create urgent tasks that would not be urgent if we did the important things we need to do each day.
In order to break this cycle, it is important to:
- Recognize the cycle and how much time you spend reacting to the urgent.
- List what you are trying to accomplish (your goal)
- Decide what is important to do today to reach that goal.
- Determine what is important this week to reach that goal.
- Highlight these things on your to-do list.
- Block one hour in your day to do the important tasks.
Force yourself to do the important today and watch how the overflow of urgent tasks decrease off your plate.