Have you ever played just one game of Candy Crush or watched just one episode of your favorite show? And somehow just one drains your battery and sucks up a few hours of your time?
You must choose to proceed before each new game or episode, so why is it so dang hard to say no?
And what can you do about it?
You’re In Good Company
Even leaders from Aristotle to Eisenhower have struggled with the distinction between Urgent and Important.
Urgent issues are in-your-face, right now! limited time only, and your last chance! final notice!!!
They’re pretty, flashy, or loud. Or they’re roadblocks between you and the important things you’re trying to do–like pop-up windows on your computer–and you just want them to go away.
They require you to be reactive, which is not the ideal way to make choices. Urgent issues are fires that must be extinguished NOW! They lead to snap decisions
like inadvertently restarting your computer in the middle of a presentation that are often poor solutions.
Important issues can change your life in significant ways, but they’re often not very sexy. They require you to be proactive, which can be hard when you’re distracted by urgent matters.
Here’s how to deal with them:
Important And Urgent
- These must be addressed quickly.
- If you handle the other categories well, there shouldn’t be many issues here.
- Includes true crises like natural disasters, medical emergencies, car accidents, etc.
These are true fires. Drop everything else and solve these problems first. Once you and your loved ones are safe, then move on to other categories.
Important But Not Urgent
- Hint: this is the most important category.
- Requires proactivity. If you don’t schedule them, they won’t happen.
- Includes making time for relationships, writing a will, purchasing insurance, saving for retirement/kids’ college, exercising, planing vacations, etc.
Some of these activities are one-and-done. In addition to being beneficial activities on their own, getting them off your to-do list will help relieve stress.
Urgent But Not Important
- These drain your time and energy but don’t really matter. It looks like your life is on fire, but it’s an illusion.
- Eliminate, minimize, or delegate these. Don’t let other people’s priorities trump yours.
- Includes Facebook/Twitter/other app notifications, limited-time sales on items you don’t need, most phone calls, most meetings, most interruptions, most news, etc.
If you have to address these, schedule time when it’s convenient for you and set a limit. Don’t leave yourself at their beck and call all day long.
Neither Urgent Nor Important
- These truly waste your time and energy.
- Eliminate these. Press delete. Throw them away. Ignore them.
- Includes junk mail, excess TV or internet browsing, spam emails, etc.
It’s okay to do some of these activities, but schedule them into your relaxation time. Don’t let their busy-ness fool you into thinking they’re productive or necessary in and of themselves, and beware of the countless advertisements typically included.
What are your time suckers? What have you been surprised you could eliminate without missing it? Share your ideas in the comments below!
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