Have You Got It? Urgentia – Addiction to Urgent

Quote of the Week

The ability to focus attention on important things is a defining characteristic of intelligence.
~Robert J. Shiller

Have You Got It? Urgentia – Addiction to Urgent

by Simon Tyler

The Urgent vs Important matrix is a trusty and well-used maxim of almost every time-management lesson or programme. I’m sure you know it and can recite the points it seeks to make. It is simply obvious, isn’t it?
Okay I’ll remind you:
  • Identify all the tasks and actions in which you are involved.
  • Assess the degree to which they are urgent (looming deadline or immediate requirement to be completed) and the degree to which they are important (developing you, solving bigger challenges, leading to your goals or greater success)
  • Work on the Urgent and Important first (Box B)
  • Work on the Non-urgent and Important box second (Box D)
  • Handle the urgent, non-important in new ways (Box A)
  • Avoid Box C

In some form this 2×2 question comes into most of my coaching conversations and this week I have become abundantly aware that I need to listen to myself for a while, as I am solving my own state of ‘Urgentia’ with a mixed dose of unimportant distractions. Things that aren’t important simply aren’t important. We shouldn’t spend excessive time involved in them; in fact we should cease them.

It is still extremely pertinent today, in our busy environments where I am frequently told that everything is now in the top right box (Urgent and Important). This is often not actually true. What may have happened to you or those around you, without being consciously aware of it, is that we have become addicted to Urgent. You are suffering from ‘Urgentia’.

Our many electronic devices are, by their nature, urgent. Phones, especially mobiles, texts (even more so), email, instant message alerts and so on. Add to this the natural urgency of our media (TV, radio, newspapers) and the adverts that scream for our attention and action NOW and we have an environment in which Urgency rules. These are almost all dangerous ‘Box A’ (the urgency masks the fact that they are absolutely unimportant).

Today we have more choices available to us than ever before, we are capable of taking amazing empowered self-development steps. Changing our business and personal lives dramatically is a real and reachable option. But we don’t. These steps are always important and non-urgent (precious ‘Box D‘). They don’t shout and scream, they require us to be conscious and deliberate. Time spent here ALWAYS pays back.

Box D enjoys only fleeting moments of your attention as your diary fills with the urgent stuff. And without you noticing you are caught, like I have been this week idling in Box C, convincing myself that whatever I am doing is important, when really it isn’t. It’s simply not urgent and I have been enjoying the non-urgency of it. The same relaxed option awaits me in the important Box D as soon as I focus on it and do it!

Urgentia is not big or clever, even though it feels like it when we are caught up in it. Urgentia leads to missed goals, slipped deadlines, excessive stress and anxiety and the feeling of no progress despite what seems to be immense effort.

A simple way to cure Urgentia? Start an audit this week of where you have spent your time. Ask yourself the question “Was this task truly important, to me, my goals and aspirations?” Begin again, deliberately. Handle the urgent and do the important. Book time, reserve the space, read, and take whatever action moves you forward in the direction of YOUR goals.

Simon Tyler is one of the world’s leading business coaches. His work simplifies the lives of business leaders and owners. He is an incisive consultant, inspirational writer, provocative public speaker and master facilitator. To learn more about Simon, visit http://simontyler.com.

Coaching Call to Action

Reread and do the last paragraph of Simon’s article.  What did you learn about yourself?  What will you commit to for the second half of 2010?  Who will support you in holding true to this commitment?

What’s New

As it’s the beginning of the second 6 months of the year, it’s a good time to stop and reflect on the first part of the yearThe following questions are from Cheryl Richardson’s newsletter.
  1. What’s the most important change I’ve made so far this year?
  2. How have I taken better care of myself?
  3. What risks have I taken?  What fears or challenges have I faced?
  4. How have I grown as a person?  What qualities have I developed?  (i.e. Am I more patient, focused, or financially responsible?)
  5. How has my environment changed?  Have I cleaned up my home or office, challenged myself to throw things out, or added some beauty to my life?
  6. What have I done to help others improve the quality of their lives?

As you finish this reflection, consider whether you are moved to create a new goal that is IMPORTANT to you.