The urgent or the important: which should you choose?

There’s just a lot of things that can fill your day. Some things are important, some things are urgent, while others are just plain distractions. So how do you choose and which one will you choose? Is it going to be the important ones, or the urgent ones.

The Urgent things

It’s incredibly interesting what we’ll do when an urgent stimuli suddenly rings that tiny bell. Text messages are probably the worst offender. You hear the text go off, and even while trying to concentrate, the only thing you can think about is that tiny little text message. Why? Because it’s an urgent prompt. It’s begging for your attention. Even if you ignore it, your mind won’t. It’s frustrating. It’s like it has a secret connection with your brain that you can’t afford not to heed it.

Other forms of urgent inputs:

  • Cell phones/text messages
  • Instant Messages
  • Facebook and Twitter comments
  • Emails

The Important ones

So what are the things that we should be worried about, the “important” things in our lives? That’s easy: it depends. It depends upon what’s important to you, in your life or in your career/business. Yes, there are things that are generally important to most people, but still importance is relative. But generally speaking, the important things are those that last and give value to you and to others.

Here are some of the things that most people consider important:

  • Commitments
  • Life visions and goals
  • Friends/Family
  • Tasks and projects due
  • Healthy body

What’s really causing most people to have problems with these two is because they always automatically choose to do the urgent things first. Unfortunately, focusing on the urgent ensures that we’ll never get to the important. In order to make sure we’re doing what’s important, we need to find a way to ignore the urgent and focus on the important with unrelenting passion.

I also believe that urgent things are actually important things that have not been given any attention, and never done way before. That’s why you tend to move fast because that important thing has now become urgent. You wouldn’t consider it urgent if it’s unimportant, right? So I say do the important things on their allotted time. Don’t wait until it nears the deadline.

As the owner of your own business or as a person who makes a living by freelancing, it’s so easy for your to get distracted. Take a minute or a day or even days to really put everything in the proper perspective. Which tasks or activities do you consider really important? What are the things that cause you to do things fast due to their urgency? What are those that you can afford to do later? Schedule each of these things and keep following the schedule. Be realistic with the deadlines, of course. Put everything in its proper place.

Your thoughts

How about you? How do you manage the urgent and the important things in your life? Have you experienced any problems in dealing with this issue? What would you like to add to the things discussed?

Let us all know in the comments!

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About the Author

Stephen NellasStephen is part of the Software Jewel team, the company behind Clutterpad and BiP. He's also a regular author for BiP.View all posts by Stephen Nellas →

  1. Jason HanleyJason Hanley07-29-2010

    Very nicely said.

    So everyone — close your email, turn off your phone ringer, and get something important done! :)

  2. Stephen NellasStephen Nellas07-31-2010

    @jason: Thanks Jason. I’m glad you liked it. I know it’s tough, but with experience, knowing what’s important and what’s just urgent will come naturally.

  3. Muhammad Ejaz AlamMuhammad Ejaz Alam06-23-2011

    Kindly explain that when urgent works becomes important and important works become urgent.