Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Living in Important, But Not Urgent

The book, 7 Habits for Highly Effective People was one of the most influential self help/leadership books of all time. Like many good books of its type, many of the lessons are not revolutionary, but are well-packaged distillations of truths that have been known for a long time (this is not meant as a dig, FYI) They also successfully demonstrate how to apply these lessons to important contexts and domains. That is, perhaps, one of the key functions of therapy and coaching as well, as an aside.

The most important lesson (IMHO) from that book lies in Covey's Time Management Quadrants. The US Government's Geological Survey Office of Office of Employee and Organizational Development, of all places, presents a great discussion of the tool and a couple of good ways of using it, should you like a more in-depth exploration.

For now, this simple depiction is enough to help me make my point.

Stephen Covey's Four Quadrants | the late stephen covey s time matri

Covey explored how our sense of urgency about tasks, regardless of their level of importance, tends to get our attention, unless we are intentional about doing otherwise. This becomes especially true as people are constantly connected to emails and texts; the immediacy of these medium pull people toward responding.

To keep it simple, I am proposing this: start every day with writing that is not urgent, but important. (and this really is not my idea, as it has been explored by many, but I, as I suggested, am repackaging and recontextualizing good ideas!)

In other words, do the writing for which there is no time crunch first. The things that are urgent will get done, or at least we are more likely to do them. However, by focusing on that which is important but not urgent first, we make movement on long-term writing projects and goals, thereby helping us feel less anxious and stressed.

Live as much as you can in the important and not urgent. See what that does to your productivity, and your long term sense of accomplishment.

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