510 PABL – When Is Urgent Not Important?

by Cliff Ravenscraft on November 22, 2011

in Pursuing A Balanced Life, The Old Pursing A Balanced Life Podcast

In this episode of Pursuing A Balanced Life, I answer the question that was asked by @hbgreg on Twitter where he wrote “When is urgent not important?”

I do a bit of rehashing some of what I shared in episode 509 about the time management lessons I learned from chapter 3 of Dave Ramsey's EntreLeadership Book.

It seems that a lot of people are struggling with the idea of discerning the difference between urgent tasks and important tasks. Personally, I think the struggle is more between discerning the tasks that are “important and urgent” (Quadrant 1) v/s the tasks that are “not important and urgent” (Quadrant 3).

I don't have all the answers to this figured out, but I have spent the past full week organizing my day around the concepts that I learned from chapter three fo EntreLeadership. I can tell you that, without a doubt, it has had a profound positive impact on the amount of IMPORTANT WORK that I completed in the past seven days.

By the way, in this episode, I shared how I took five days to respond to my single most important client as a result of his email not making it to the top of my to do list during those five days.

Here's what I wrote to him…..

Why it has taken so long, (Read this section only if interested – Otherwise Skip To Next Section)
I'm so sorry for taking five days to respond to your email. I'd like to give credit to Dave Ramsey, as I've been reading EntreLeadership and in chapter three, he discussed time management.

I must admit that I've been hard at work at taking a deep look at the tasks that I do and then categorize them into four quadrants.

Quadrant 1 – Important and Urgent
Quadrant 2 – Important and Not Urgent
Quadrant 3 – Not Important and Urgent
Quadrant 4 – Not Important and Not Urgent

I've been spending about 15 minutes each day trying to organize my day's to do list based up on these categories, trying to fit in as many Q1 and Q2 tasks as possible and then I prioritize my list based upon how Dave shared in the rest of that chapter.

Having well over 100 emails that had built up from my West Coast trip, “manage email” has hovered around an A5 to A7 task.

Previously, I'd try to capture the ever elusive email “Inbox Zero” and would have responded to your email within a few short hours.

There is a part of me that is excited that I'm just getting to this email today, as the tasks that I've worked on these past five days have been EPIC on the scale of importance, especially the ones that were “Important But Not Urgent.”

However, when I come to an email like this, there is a part of me that wanders if there isn't a way to do this to were some folks get priority treatment when it comes to responding to an email.

I'm working on it.

The email then continued on to respond to the URGENT request for help that he wrote to me about five days earlier. A request for assistance that I was then, at the time of responding to the email, four days too late to fulfill.

Want to know how this client responded? The following email response came in, this morning, after I had finished recording this episode. He wrote back and said….

Thanks for your note here. Hey I understand totally about prioritizing your time. As you become more and more successful that will increase as an absolute necessity.

… I have removed portion of email pertaining to the topic we were discussing …

I so appreciate your willingness to add your expertise to my ongoing work here.

There you go my friends. You see, this client, my single most important client wrote back and said that it was no problem that I did not fulfill his request to be available for his urgent request. Instead of being angry or let down, he reinforced my decision to “Do The Work That Counts” by saying that as I become more and more successful, the need to do this will increase as an absolute necessity.

In the episode, I quoted Peter Shallard's post where wrote, “Shun the urgent. Allow it to sort itself. Notice how pointless email has a way of making itself irrelevant over time. Notice how those you're supposed to be delegating to will take initiative on their own. If you're a leader, support your team by leading a business built on doing the important stuff, not the urgent stuff. Ignore the urgent. Do work that counts.”

In this episode, I mention the following people on Twitter:

After you get a chance to listen, feel free to leave a comment here on this post! You can provide audio feedback for the podcast by calling the voice mail feedback line directly at 859-795-4067. You can also email an audio file to [email protected].

Don't forget to tweet about your pursuit of a balanced life, joining us in the #PABL campaign.

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