Important NOT Urgent


This week has been a really nice week with several coaching sessions, a couple of good client meetings with time to market my company. The forward planning of any company is critical and we can be so busy working on the daily things that we tend to forget the pipeline for the business.

I explain this in full detail in my book Off the Wall where the Eisenhower principle of time management is used to get the important things done rather than concentrating on the urgent things. There is a huge difference between these two and once you ‘get’ the difference the effectiveness of your working hours improves dramatically.

Eisenhower Principle

This principle has a huge impact with my coaching clients and it is a joy to see the light go on in the minds when they see the Eisenhower principle explained. Once they understand that their job is to work on the most important things in their business/lives then they get so much more done each day/week/month.

Have you ever had the day where you have been busy all day long and when someone asks you what you have done you can’t tell them. That is because you have been very busy on the urgent things – responding to all emails, answering all the questions which come your way, agreeing to help everyone who asks, attending long drawn out meetings, answering the phone every time it rings etc.

Important not Urgent

Then you realise that the four really important things on your impressive ‘To Do’ list are still on your ‘To Do’ list and so you move them onto the next day’s list of things to do. You have the full intention of getting those four things done tomorrow and so you close down your day with the promise to yourself that you will definitely do those four important things tomorrow.

You wake the next morning full of intention and know that you are going to get those four things done today! You get in your car and head for work and on the way you hear the phone ring a couple of times as well as a few text messages coming in. Now because you are a good driver you don’t answer the phone or look at the texts until you get to work.

Good intentions

When you arrive you make yourself a cup of something then check the phone messages. The three messages aren’t important but because they are easy to tackle you phone these three people back and spend a good half hour sorting the bits and bobs out for each of the calls then you feel good that you have ticked these three things off.

When you check the texts you have 16 of them and even though you only see a couple which are important you decide to respond to all of them so that you feel ‘on top of things’ and you are reducing your to do list as you go along. Responding to these 16 texts takes a good while but you do eventually get to tick them all off the list.

The time just seems to disappear

As you settle down to look at your To Do list someone asks you if you have a minute to discuss something and before you get the chance to sort out your To Do list you are in what turns out to be a 45 minute discussion. You get back to your desk exhausted and you are already into the first 3 hours of your day.

You finally get down to look at your long list and add a few things which need working on and you then take a long look at the list. You see a few things which will take quite a long time to achieve then you see a lot of smaller things which are much easier and quicker to achieve. You think to yourself that if you just get rid of some of these smaller things you will feel better and will then be able to tackle the bigger trickier tasks.

What have you done today?

So you spend most of the day dealing with the smaller tasks, interruptions, lunch, more emails coming in, more texts coming in and finally you have cleared all these small tasks and you are ready to start one of the big tasks. But now there isn’t enough time to complete it so you move it onto the To Do list for the next day. You then finish the day with a few smaller tasks and go home.

When you are asked at home what you have done you tell them that you have been really busy but you can’t articulate exactly what you have done because everything you have done during the day is not Important. Now I know this may be a little exaggerated but I’m sure you can identify with some of this.

Our Inner Chimp

The reason we don’t get the important things and go for the easy things is because of our Inner Chimp. We know our Chimp always wants the pleasure first and the pain second so it will always go for the easiest option in front of it. By using the Eisenhower Principle we can identify what is important to us and then we start to work on those important things in the morning.

We need to manage our Chimp and once we do that we will be much more productive meaning we can work shorter hours and achieve more. Once we identify which things are Important and which are Urgent we can make informed choices as to which we will work on. This is the best tool I have ever come across to defeat Procrastination.

Thoughts for this week

1. Think about your day and how much time you spend on small easy tasks just because they are easy to do and make you feel good for a moment
2. Try to identify whether each task is Important or Urgent (urgent things shout at us but they don’t always need to be done)
3. Try to tackle the Important things early in the day
4. The Important things are usually the harder and longer things to do and that is why our Chimp avoids doing them
5. Read up on the Eisenhower Principle and get an understanding of how good if feels when you get the Important things done on a daily basis.

Well that’s it for this week, have a great weekend and stay positive

Warm regards


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