December 2013

Balancing Urgent and Important in 2014

Do you struggle with placing more effort and energy on the’ urgent tasks’, instead of your ‘important goals’?  If you’re like most of the leaders I coach, you probably find yourself reacting regularly to the urgent 9-1-1 demands on your time. Businesses today require managing the 'urgent' and the 'important' simultaneously, which can often be a real challenge.  The tendency to focus energy on the ‘urgent’ tasks is quite common and usually at the expense of the important goals.    

9-1-1 Addiction

A past client found himself constantly caught up in all the fires of the moment.  And to make it even more attractive (or addictive) he was very good with 9-1-1’s.  He was the leader they all turned to for quick resolution to the situation.  He was expending so much energy with the urgent requests, he had little energy or time left for the important work… those things that moved him and his business toward the real goals.  This client was a smart leader, fully capable of achieving the important goals.  So how did this happen?

It’s easy to get drawn to urgent tasks because they keep us busy.   Urgent tasks keep us needed, and they provide a high that’s like an energy burst connected to a resolution.  Unfortunately, a regular diet of urgent work leaves you wiped out at the end of the day and nervous about the important work that got left behind yet one more day…

The important work takes focused thinking and planning with realistic goals to move you to successful results, and then executing on the plans to get you there!  Rarely are these the ‘urgent’ 9-1-1 tasks.  

As we head into the New Year, take a few moments to reflect on your balance between the urgent and the important.

How can you place your primary focus on the ‘important’ in 2014?  

  • Check your calendar over the past year to identify where you really spend your time. You may be surprised.
  • Do you have the reputation for jumping in and handling all the 9-1-1’s?   
  • Can you schedule your e-mail responses for scheduled periods of time each day to allow you focused time to work on your important goals?
  • Can you create a list of just one or two important things to accomplish each day no matter what?  (hint – one of those things may be some scheduled ‘think time’)
  • How many 9-1-1’s do you unintentionally create for others that could be avoided?  
  • Ask your peers and direct reports if they can identify some activities you could do less often, or stop doing altogether?

Remember, even just a few simple shifts can help you create great positive results!

“The degree to which urgency drives the organization is the degree to which importance does not.”                        - Stephen R. Covey

Are you achieving the results you want?
The best leaders make simple shifts or practical changes for big results.  I work closely with leaders to create practical solutions to achieve real success. Let me help you discover what's possible. Visit my website for details.

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