Thursday, 29 November 2007

Tyranny of the Urgent

You know, I often have "busyness" on my mind. I feel busy most of the time, and I'm going to write a few posts about this so bear with me.

A few years ago I was leading a study group, and it talked about the "tyranny of the urgent". Basically, we tend to work on the things that are most urgent in our lives, instead of the things that are most important. This really comes home to me when I think about some of the things I've missed out on because I had more "urgent" things to do. I'm still extremely saddened by the fact that I didn't call a friend of mine on a day when he could really have done with it, because I had decided to work through my lunch break to get something done. My work was urgent, but the phone call was important, and I made the wrong choice.

Urgent things come my way every day (and I don't want you to think that I'm just having a moan; I know this is the same for everyone, but I'm writing it from a personal perspective). Things are sent to me, or handed to me, or drop into my e-mails, that demand instant attention. And I could fill my days doing those urgent tasks. On the other hand, things like visiting people, or spending time with Dawn and Amy, are not urgent. There's no deadline... nobody will tell me off if I'm late. But they are important.

Relaxation? Play? Socialising? Unwinding? Personal study? Hobbies? None of these are urgent, but they're all important. Cut them out for too long and your "effectiveness" will drop sharply. Not to mention your relationships with others.

So, what to do? In my instance, I try to look at things and decide whether they are really important or not. Do they need to be dealt with now, or can they wait? That's not to say I put everything off - if I have the time I'll try to get ahead with things - but when everything hits the fan, I try my best to deal with the important rather than the urgent.

I'm not going to get this right all the time, but I try my best :)

Image by Wurz


Chris said...

PS - sometimes things ARE important AND urgent... and eventually even unimportant things can become important as time wears on, so you need to constantly re-evaluate stuff if you're going to try and choose the right thing to do at the right time.

Mitchenstein said...

Hey Chris!

Great to see you blogging again!

(I kept checking the old one to see whether you'd had a change of heart).

Look forward to reading more!