Shift Time From Urgent To Important
February 7, 2021
Some people have asked me about how I manage my time full of energy doing lots of activities. “You seem to have a lot of time- running your business, blogging every day, coaching, reading books, working out, going for walks, meditating. How do you manage to pack so much in a day, and you don’t appear stretched.”
I ask them in return- “Why are you not able to do the things you want to do?”
Guess what the typical response is to this question? “There are so many important things to do. I don’t have time.”
Whenever I hear such a comment, I smile to myself. “Is there anyone who has more time than someone else?” The fact is that everyone has the same 24 hours to deal with.
The issue is not whether someone has more or less time. The point is, what do people do with the time they have.
Many would have seen this matrix that many time-management books talk about.
The Books also say, focus on the A, B quadrants. Important-Urgent and Important-less urgent. While this guidance is excellent theoretically, how do we decide the real importance of any activity that requires our time?
E.g., You want to speak to your parents or siblings. There is no particular agenda, no reason. You want to chat up with them only because it is what you feel like doing. If you had to choose between speaking with your parents or commit your time to something urgent at work, what should you do?
Till about a decade back, this was a real problem I was grappling with. There was no space as I was busy at work almost all days a week. I wished I had more time to do things I wanted to do. Like everyone else, I also found it convenient to say “I don’t have time.”
Until, one fine day, I decided to do a self-audit of how I spent my time. I realized that my calendar was full of “urgent” masquerading as important.
- Attend these meetings. Your presence is required.
- Read all the emails and respond to everything that is sent to you.
- Attend these events. You need to be there to motivate team members etc.
- Review the work my team was doing.
I was filling up my calendar with activities that kept me busy and made me feel like I was doing something productive when in fact, I was taking myself away from the activities that mattered.
I realized that there is more to life beyond the workplace. It was important, I created space in my calendar for activities across the four quadrants so that my energy was strong and I could pursue activities that I wanted to do. Managing my time meant knowing what I wished to accomplish in that period that would take me towards both my personal and professional goals.
I started making deliberate and conscious changes. Despite deep discomfort, I began to commit 50% of my time to focus on the Important and Not urgent- Planning, meditation, walks, physical Activities, reading Books, coaching, and family. I moved from urgent to important.
These activities made me happy and energized. Counter-intuitively shifting more of my time to the important/not urgent made me more effective and productive, personally and professionally.
Shift your time and focus from the urgent to Important. You will see big benefits in your life.