Getting anything truly meaningful done requires doing what is truly important, not what is merely urgent. Knowing the difference between urgent and important tasks is one of the most powerful skills anyone can have.
It’s a universal truth that’s been discussed by sages for centuries. But this phrasing comes from Stephen Covey’s book, 7 Habits of Highly Successful People. And this is far from the only great idea in that book. That is one of the best books I’ve ever read–whether you’re interested in leadership, productivity, healthy living or general people skills. It is a MUST read.
In the chapter on Urgent vs. Important, Covey warns against “the tyranny of the urgent”, where the aspects of our life that demand attention force us into a state of constant reaction. Phone calls and emails and people stopping by our door…we can spend all day responding to urgent requests. But while they may be urgent, they aren’t all important.
Often, the most important thing you could do isn’t urgent at all. Some crucial things, like personal development and long-range planning and creating a whole new system rather that fixing the error (yet again) can always be put off one more week. But those are the kinds of tasks that change the game.
If you want to be successful–in any field from parenting to IT to preaching–you must cultivate the discipline to walk past the urgent issues which are screaming for your attention and sit down in the corner with the quiet, but important projects.
What important project have you been ignoring because it can wait? When is the next time you could take the first step to deal with it?
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