Monday, May 14, 2018

Prioritizing the Not Urgent but Important

A person in a hoodie using a phone at a table over coffee

[Photo by Maliha Mannan at Unsplash]

The day is planned and, unless we are well-hidden, we know there will be interruptions. Much of the stuff can be easily fended off but the ones that are most dangerous to our schedule are those which, while not being urgent, are important.

Wait! Haven't we been told that the Not Urgent but Important items are the ones we are most likely to neglect and yet they can be vital to long-term success? Shouldn't we pay attention to those?

Yes, but as much as possible we should handle those in a well-planned and methodical manner.

Instead, here's what may happen. A call comes in from an internal or external customer. It concerns an item that is Not Urgent but Important. Rather than scheduling it for another time so we can get back to the Not Urgent but Important items we had planned, we handle the matter as if it is Urgent and Important and push the other work aside. It is not really Urgent and Important but we treat it as such.

If we do that enough times then we've lost control of our plans for the Not Urgent but Important items. We have let others direct our schedule. An item that already may have suffered from neglect will be neglected again because it does not have a champion to protect it.

When it comes to the Not Urgent but Important items that keep getting shunted aside, we need to be that champion.

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