What is Urgent is Not Always Important

The phone rings, you get a notification or a text, or someone walks into the room frantic saying this has to be done now or ASAP. You were working on your goals for the next quarter while all of this happened. If your experience is anything like mine, there are several instances on when you are doing something important but get interrupted by something urgent. Don't get me wrong, there will also be several instances on when what is urgent is also important. However, I would advise against mistaking everything that is urgent as important. Here are just a few ways to distinguish what is important vs what is urgent.

  1. Urgent things are imposed upon you while important things are contemplated. People will usually impose an urgent request to you like "cut this check right away" or "return this report to me by the end of the day." Sometimes the urgency is legitimate and other times it is fabricated. In most cases though it is coming from someone else.

  2. Urgent things come up suddenly. This is pretty much the definition of urgent. Something that is important has been important already, before you woke up today and far before this and several other urgent things have come up in your life. The urgent thing is something unplanned for and frequently takes precedence over very important tasks, even when they shouldn't be.

  3. Urgent things can easily derail you. I have countless days I can speak of where my plans for the day have been completely derailed because of urgent matters. This is where many factors come into play. Some people are much better at handling urgency better than others, some people are much better at deciding what is actually urgent correctly more than others, and this can get even more complicated when dealing with teams and all kinds of other factors that can play into this.

  4. Important things need to be planned for in advance. Since you cannot plan for when urgent matters will arise, you can plan for important tasks that you know of already. It is best practice to plan with flexibility in the event that something urgent does arise.

As you know, life can get very complicated. There are all kinds of events, tasks, people, etc. competing for our time and our attention. There are so many things that can arise and take us off of the course that we were on already. While this isn't something that is cut and dry, a good rule of thumb is to put a greater effort towards the things that are important, so that way you make progress towards those longer term goals when not dealing with urgent tasks. It is easy to grow accustomed to urgency and to only pay mind towards urgent tasks. Some people live their lives solely for urgency and are just short of living in constant chaos. If that isn't for you and you are more like me, you probably deal much less with urgency if possible by planning as much as possible. It is important to not err too much on that side either because then you may not embrace urgency enough and not act when you need to. There is a balance required on this as well. The best way to get this is experience.

It is very hard to believe that this year is half over already. I cannot believe how quickly time if flying by. I have been writing this blog for two years! To further emphasize this week's topic, urgent and important are going to meet regarding Time is Me. I have been working on a book for quite a while now, and have been off track for a few months because of a lot of things that have happened personally, but lately I just haven't had enough urgency. It is time to get back on track with Time is Me. More details to follow.

To those of you who have been reading, I want to say thank you and hope you are having a fun, exciting, and productive summer!