Urgent Vs. Important
Have you ever been in the middle of doing what needs to be done and gotten distracted by something that pops up to get your attention? It could be a distraction of the worst kind that throws you off your groove or a pleasant detour during your day.
Unfortunately, these kinds of distractions, whether wanted or not, are messing with our heads. Thanks to the default mode of constant notifications, a culture of on-demand information, and a world of tickers scrolling across every screen, we get lost as to what actually needs our attention. The buzzing, beeping, and flashing fools us into thinking that something urgent is actually something important.
Getting a project done on time is important. Your future at the company, your reputation, and revenue for the business could all be affected by your ability to identify what is and is not important then correspondingly manage your time.
Here’s the thing, chances are you’re not using your time to complete important tasks because of the urgency of other things that come up.
While in the working groove, your phone buzzes, and you’re going to look down because, well…it buzzed. Someone may need you for something. Oh it’s your significant other. He or she is at the store and wants to know what you feel like having for dinner. You text back and forth until you finally pick something. You turn back to your work. A messenger bubble pops up. It’s your coworker a couple offices over asking if you can stop down when you have a second. Might as well do it now since you’re out of your groove. You go down, help him or her figure out whatever is needed. Since you’re down this part of the hall anyway, might as well take a quick coffee/bathroom break. By the time you settle back to your task, you have had 5-7 “urgent” things take away about 45 minutes from completing what’s important.
Maybe these diversions wouldn’t be so damaging if they were the anomaly, the rare occasion, the exception to the rule. When we’re honest with ourselves, we know they’re not. They monopolize our time and overtake our days. We have lost control of time management because we let what is urgent control us and overtake what is important.
We have the tools to win back what we have too freely given away. Our phones come with settings that can be adjusted. Don’t let the badges, banners, notifications, and alerts run rampant if you can’t control the impulse to respond to them. Politely but clearly set up expectations for others about when you will get back to them or where your priorities are. Set up blocks of time for tasks with scheduled breaks. Be realistic and don’t set yourself up to fail. You’ll only prove to yourself that you are “not disciplined”.
We live up or down to the truths we repeat to ourselves.
Create good habits by taking time to evaluate the hours you have and things you have to do then schedule accordingly. It sounds almost too simple, but of course we are only able to conquer all that noise with quiet reflection and defeat distraction with measured time and consideration.