I’ve been going through my RSS feeds this morning. I’ve not spent much time looking at my Bloglines lately, and after over an hour of perusing through the 150+ feed that I subscribe to I still have over 500 unread items. Then I stopped to remind myself of a question.
What is my priority here?
A guy by the name of Charles Hummel wrote Tyranny of the Urgent where he said
We live in constant tension between the urgent and the important. The problem is that many important tasks need not be done today, or even this week… The urgent task calls for instant action. The momentary appeal of these tasks seems irresistible, and they devour our energy. With a sense of loss we recall the vital tasks we pushed aside. We realize that we have become slaves to the tyranny of the urgent.
Overcoming that tyranny of the urgent and focusing instead on those things that are truly important is one sure way to propel us on our way toward success.
Urgent things come at us from all sides. When Charles first wrote those words back in the 60’s, his big concern was the telephone. Have you ever been in a business, right in front of someone talking with them, and had them put you on “hold” while they answered a phone call? It is especially aggravating when you are looking to purchase something from them.
But how many times do we do the same thing every day?
With cell phones, email, IM, and text messaging it is way to easy for us to get distracted and pulled off course by urgent things.
The way to overcome this problem is to leave some things undone. And that is especially hard for those of us who may have perfectionist tendencies and are driven to excel. We want to get it all done.
The challenge is that, because so many of the urgent things can be completed quickly, it may seem like we are getting more done. We have more items to check off our list. However setting aside some of those urgent things, and taking the long view will pay large dividends in the end.
The irony is that we will accomplish more by attempting to do less. The key is to prioritize and set aside those things which are not as important. Put your effort into moving those long term projects a little further forward. Then you will eventually be able see success in that area.
Fourteen more new items have come into my feed reader since I started typing this. I’ll get to them eventually. Or maybe I won’t. Either way I have things that are more important today.
So do you.