The Fight Between Urgent & Important

You can do almost all your work by simply dividing it into parts. One is urgent and second is important. I am yet to discover a productive task that does not fit in any of these two categories. The ones I can’t put in any of these two are usually those useless things we all do that waste our time and does not add any value in our lives.

How can you differentiate if the task is urgent or important? Let me give you some examples. Learning a new thing is important, but completing your daily duties is urgent. Completing the monthly target at work is urgent, but working out daily is important.

In 99% of the cases, you end up compromising with important things and get worked up in the things that are urgent. If you think about your daily routine, you’ll realize that you have so many urgent things to do that, there’s very little or no time for things that are important.

There are three primary reasons why people end up in a situation like this:

  1. Procrastination – When you let pending work accumulate it turns into urgent one. In order to deal with old work, you compromise on the current pending work and before you know it you’re stuck in a vicious circle where you’re only dealing with urgent work and not the important one.
  2. Over Satisfaction – While meeting the deadlines and finishing urgent work, you begin to feel that you deserve a break and always invest left over time in relaxing and enjoying.
  3. Lack of Focus – While you’re dealing with urgent work, you don’t focus to finish it as early as possible. Due to lack of time management, you end up only doing urgent work and have no time for the important ones.

All three reasons above indicate that if you’re looking to grow in life, if you want to achieve something extraordinary in life, then you have to ensure that you find time for important work as well.

It’s a human tendency to procrastinate the things that are important, but what most people fail to understand is that you do not get the same results later, like you can get now. If you work on that important dream project now, changes are that it will give you results now. If you push it for later, either someone else will come up with a similar idea before you, or there will be too many players in the market by the time you enter. Not just professional life, this applies in personal life as well. If an individual works on his/her health now, changes are their body will stay fit for longer.

It’s my personal experience that if you start working more on important things, your list of urgent things will start reducing. For example, if you invest more time in learning new and more efficient techniques for client pitching, you’ll get more conversions and sales in less pitching. If you work on developing systems within your office, and bring develop a communication channel, you’ll end up reducing some extra meetings and save time.

How to balance between urgent and important work? Here are few good techniques that I have developed over the years that can come handy to you.

  • Divide your ‘To Do’ list in 2 parts. One for Urgent work, and the second for important work. Important works are those that may not require to be finished today itself, but are important to do for the betterment of the future. Make sure you never put more than 2-3 important work in your list because even if you put complete efforts, you won’t be able to finish more than 2 important works at a time.
  • Find out new ways to do and finish important work. I have earlier mentioned that urgent work can occupy a major part of your day. However, you can always find smarter ways to do the important work. For me, learning new things is most important. I always have some audio books and eBooks stored in my phone. While driving, instead of listening to the music, I listen to the eBooks. If I am waiting for someone for a meeting, I utilize that time to read the eBook. This habit has helped me finish some extra books.
  • You got to learn the art of dividing the days. Let’s say you’re looking to write a book and also get fit, but only have one hour of spare time. All you have to do is divide your days. Four days a week you can work out for that one hour and remaining three you can invest in your book.
  • Keep yourself away from the internet and mobile phone for an hour every day. Invest this time in doing or planning your important work. I can say this from my personal experience that when you get rid of these gadgets for an hour, your productivity doubles. Technology always comes in the way of focus.
  • Plan your day in advance. Once you’re clear what and when are you going to do for the day, it saves you a lot of time and makes you more efficient. Invest the first 15 minutes of your day in planning and you’ll see a lot of change in your work speed.

With these tips, I hope now you can start finding time for the things that are important while also catering to the urgent ones.

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