Do you have those days when you are running around at the office, scrambling to go from meeting to meeting, with a phone stuck to your face? And at the end of the day you wonder: “What did I actually do today?”. That is why you should focus on the important, instead of what is urgent.
Most things that are urgent seem important. And a lot of important things are not that urgent, like planning and building relationships. Responding to e-mail and answering the phone are urgent and they sometimes feel important. So you end up doing those things the entire day, with a meeting or 3 in between.
Here’s how you can decide whether something is important – and not just urgent – and thus, worthy of your precious time.
Most tasks don’t need to be done right away, although it feels like that sometimes. We lie to ourselves. Sometimes not intended, at other times we do it very intentional. We use small and easy tasks to fill up our schedule as part of our procrastination habit.
Whenever you sit down to make your to-do list, answer these questions to decide on the ‘importance factor’ of the specific to-do:
If at least two of those questions are answered with ‘yes’ your to-do has a high importance factor. It can then be jotted down in your to-do list, or you might make the necessary preparations or schedule (if needed) the appointment already.
A “not to-do list” might help if you have trouble setting priorities.
It is really astonishing how few to-do’s actually matter. There is just a small amount of work you do each day that really helps you grow your business. I wrote about this phenomenon earlier in my post about highest leverage tasks.
It is crucial to start with your most important task first.
If you have this out of the way you can be satisfied and proud of yourself. It makes focusing on other tasks easier as well, as you have less mental burden. You no longer have the feeling that you ought to be working on something else.
As soon as you feel lost, re-prioritize and check your to-do’s. As the three questions again and see what is most important at this stage in time. I usually prioritize two times a day.
Urgency can be a deceiver. Don’t fall for it. Do the work that matters first.
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