Focus on what is Not Urgent & Important.
Steven Covey famously suggested this in his book, First Things First. When you do this you are able to focus on true strategic issues that will make an impact on your organization and its stakeholders.
Covey says that we need to Minimize work on issues that are Urgent & Important, Delegate issues that are Urgent & Not Important, and Ignore issues that are Not Urgent & Not Important.
Easier said than done.
This is because – for many people – Urgent issues dominate their day. And often there are still Urgent issues left when they leave work. They follow you home and remind you of themselves in the middle of the night. So you are up early and back on the Hamster Wheel.
What do you do? You need to take a systemic approach which identifies the root cause for so many Urgent issues showing up in your life. You will not eliminate them, but you can reduce them. Here are a few common root causes:
1 – You are an Urgency Junkie. You get such a rush from solving the Urgent issues that you actually invite them in. You pay a price for this and you need to stop.
2 – It really is not Important. Related to the above, people will bring you issues that are Urgent to them, but not the organization. You need to say No.
3 – The scope of your job is too broad. If this is true then you are probably not doing your job very well. This is not good for you or the organization. It looks “efficient” but will hurt you and the organization. You need to off-load some responsibilities.
4 – You need to delegate more. Trust your team to take on Urgent issues without micro-managing them. These are growth opportunities.
5 – Your boss is a workaholic. When the boss says that something is Urgent it is hard to ignore. Have a conversation with the boss that helps them understand that you can’t get Important work done. Or get a new boss.
These are common root causes of Urgent & Important issues taking too much of your time. If these causes do not fit, then do a thoughtful After Action Review and look for other causes. If you really want to be strategic and do the Important work of your role, you need to reduce these Urgent moments.