The Urgent vs. The Important

“I get completely caught up in day-to-day priorities and can’t find the time to advance my longer-term goals and projects.” This is a complaint that I hear over and over again from clients in senior positions and management roles. This is the frustration you feel when the “urgent” crowds out the “important”. It’s particularly difficult for leaders and managers transitioning into new roles. There is so much to learn and do, but not enough time to get it all done..

There are some strategies that can help.

The first is being clear and realistic about your longer-term priorities. If you are familiar with the Kison program, use the tools we have provided you with. A few essential checklists you should always have handy: Personal Goal Setting, Personal Time Use Evaluation, Prioritizing your Activities, Planning Priorities and Weekly Planning Worksheet. We place a large emphasis on Priority Management because we know it is the key to achieving greatness and reaching the next level.

A second strategy is to delegate more effectively. Don’t let your direct reports off-load problems or tasks they should be taking on. Any time a subordinate brings you a problem, ask yourself, “Is this really something that I need to be involved with?” If not, tell them to come back with a strategy for dealing with issue: not a solution, just a strategy.

A third strategy is to establish and rigorously defend your boundaries. Set aside some time, even if it’s just half an hour each day, when you turn off the BlackBerry. IPOD, etc. and let calls go to voicemail and the emails and texts sit in the waiting room for you until you are prepared to review them. (I have been doing this myself when things get  too crazy. It works!).Before you get drawn into something “urgent,” take a step back and ask yourself, “What is the best use of my time right now? Is this really urgent? What will happen over the next week or month if I don’t do this now? The answer is often surprisingly freeing when you realize you are making this a bigger issue than it needs to be.

You have to vigorously protect your boundaries. No one else will.

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