Are you working on your highest priority activities right now, or are you being pulled away by those very noisy urgencies that always seem to be there? I know you are busy; we are all busy. The question to ask is, “Busy doing what?”
It was Stephen Covey who first warned that, “The noise of the urgent creates the illusion of importance.” He called it Urgent vs Important. This is why it is important for leaders at every to be clear on their priorities for themselves and especially for their teams. If you or your team are focused solely on the urgent at the expense of the important it will be very difficult for you to meet or exceed your goals.
It was also Dr. Covey who introduced us to the concept of BIG Rocks First. When you combine these two lessons, BIG Rocks and Urgent and Important you everything you need to begin a journey where you major on the majors, not the minors. And before you tell me, “Duh!” let me tell you this. We all know this is true, but most of us fail to execute like we know it is true.
The 5 Steps
If you struggle with doing the most important things first, try this:
1. Reaffirm EXACTLY what it is you are trying to accomplish, call this your GOAL.
2. Break the GOAL into MILESTONES (think of these as gates you must walk through to get to the final destination).
3. Determine what you would need to do TODAY to get to the next MILESTONE (gate).
4. Schedule time (early in the day) to work on these most important tasks that lead toward the gate.
5. Say NO to anything that gets in the way of meeting today’s execution challenge.
In my experience I have found that setting a daily goal of the 2-3 things I ABSOLUTELY must get done today, before the day begins (usually the night before), sets me on a path for success.
When other things arise (urgencies) I can weight them against my plan and determine if they are actually something urgent is really important and must be handled, or something urgent that just sounds urgent and can wait until I finish my commitment for today.
Sounds easy…it’s NOT. Practice! Commit! Just Do It!