urgent vs. important

A close up on the phone in Connecting or not
photo credit: Kalexanderson                                          Not sure what this photo has to do with this topic, it just showed up in my search for “urgent” and I thought it was funny. 

On Thursday of this week, I had an all-day meeting with our weekend production team.  When I put it on the schedule, I had really no idea what it was going to be about, but I knew that we needed to meet together.  On the day before, I had hardly given it any thought and it was cramming time, just to make it happen.  Where to meet?  What’s for lunch?  How do we get there?  What to talk about?

Later that night, while working on it from home, I thought to myself “Why are we doing this?”  “I don’t have capacity for this.”  “What if the day turns out to be awful?”  Contrast that with how I felt as we were wrapping up our time at the end:  “Why don’t we do this more?”  “I have to figure out how to make time for this.”  “This day was exactly what we needed!”

This contrast is so interesting to me.  The urgent vs. the important.  How the things staring us in the face squeeze out the things that matter.  The question is how can we get past the urgent to get to what is really important?

Put the important stuff on the calendar.

In my example, I put it on the calendar and was forced to make it happen.  The closer the day got, the more pressure I felt to make it happen.  I kept putting it off until I couldn’t put it off any more.  Without the date set, I would have just put it off indefinitely.  Without making time for it, the less important things fill up all the time.  Make space for the important things, first.

The important stuff will probably require some extra effort.

I have to make room in my schedule to plan for the important things.  Unfortunately, most things that matter require more effort than just the stuff that comes across our path every day.  The fact I needed to spend time at home planning shouldn’t surprise me.  This leads to the next big learning for me…

Your efforts toward the important will have long lasting impact.

 This extra effort will pay off in the long term and is worth the price of short term inconvenience.  Spending the time now will get you to where you envision, but it requires effort to start down that road and keep you on that road.

After my experience this past Thursday, I am committing to putting stuff on the calendar, whether I am ready for it or not.  I have to make time and space for the things that matter, in my own life and for the life of my team.