Urgent vs. Important: Stay Productive And Do The Right Work

98% of your inboxes and to-do list are nothing but distracting garbage.

Text. Tweet. Facebook message. LinkedIn comment. Knock at the door. Snapchat. Instagram mention. WhatsApp.

98% of your inboxes and to-do list are nothing but distracting garbage.

We live in a world where, if you are on point and after your goals, you are going to be mega-slammed with requests from everyone and their momma. And most of what they ping you on is going to be urgent…

But is it important?

To you? To your family? For your goals?

Most of it isn’t.

One way you can tell if a task is important: What is the ONE thing you can think of right now (literally, right now as you read this) that you should do that would move the needle in your life towards your ideal life that you have not done and have successfully put off for some time? That thing, whatever it is, is important. But guess what you did… you sacrificed getting that done because you had urgent things to do.

Did those urgent things move the needle toward your ideal life?

Nope. Not much, if at all.

And here is the dilemma… You end up working all day long, extended hours, knocking things out left and right, feeling accomplished, yet you barely, if at all, moved the needle on the things you should have been doing to march toward your ideal life.

There is a vast difference in urgent and important.

What are the top three things you want to accomplish in the next 12 months? What are the top three things you need to make happen for each of those three things to come to reality? That’s your to-do list. Everything else, and I mean everything else, is your to-avoid list

If you do not work at least some of your day, every day, on those things related to the top things you wishy to accomplish, your top three things you want to accomplish are NOT going to be accomplished in the next 12 months. Period. It’s a concept I call Dying on the Vine. Listeners that heard my short video on this freaked out, so we uploaded it to YouTube. Check it out HERE. Subscribe to the channel while you’re there!

Everything else is a distraction. Even if it’s urgent.

If you don’t prioritize your goals and dreams, who else will? No one. But they will gladly fill up your to-do list and email inbox with urgent requests so that they can fulfill their goals and deadlines… but it’s at the expense of yourgoals and deadlines.

Seneca, a Roman Stoic philosopher, noted that people protect their property in all sorts of ways. They use locks, security systems and storage units—but most do little to protect their time. A study by PPAI Research found only a third of Americans use a daily schedule. This means the vast majority of people wake up every morning with no real plans for how they want to spend their day. They don’t guard their most precious asset: their time. That leaves it just waiting around, vulnerable, ready for someone to steal it. 

The fact is…

If you don’t plan your day, someone else will. 

If you don’t allocate your time, it leaves.

At any given moment, it’s hard to tell whether we are moving towards or away from what we really want. Checking your work email may feel productive in the moment, but when you really need to focus your attention on a big project you’re neglecting, you’re bound to regret the time you’ve wasted cleaning out your inbox.

Strategic productivity is focusing on important things that lead you to your ideal life.

Strategic productivity is more about what you say no to than it is what you say yes to.

Derek Sivers, author of Anything You Want, wrote about this very ideal in a way that is communicated brilliantly:

No “yes.” Either “HELL YEAH!” or “no.”

“Use this rule if you’re often over-committed or too scattered.

If you’re not saying, “HELL YEAH!” about something, say, “no”.

When deciding whether to do something, if you feel anything less than “Wow! That would be amazing! Absolutely! Hell yeah!” — then say, “no.”

When you say no to most things, you leave room in your life to really throw yourself completely into that rare thing that makes you say, “HELL YEAH!”

Every event you get invited to. Every request to start a new project. If you’re not saying “HELL YEAH!” about it, say, “no.”

We’re all busy. We’ve all taken on too much. Saying yes to less is the way out.”

Derek Sivers

Have you read that book by the way? It’s short but mind-blowing. One of my favorite reads. Check it out by clicking HERE.

My Strategic Life comrades, always remember: Our strategic life is created by what we accomplish. What we accomplish is determined by what actions we took. Our actions taken were crafted by what we believe. And what we believe is shaped by our education, experiences and environment.

With that being said, if you have been mindful in your education, experiences and environment to shape your Strategic Life, that itself has molded your beliefs, which mold your activities that will lead to the Strategic Life you desire.

Just make darn sure you are using your beliefs to work on your IMPORTANT things, not everyone else’s urgent things.

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