I recently attended a meeting where a colleague of mine said, “Sometimes you have to set aside the urgent for the important.” Immediately, I got stuck on that thought. Frankly, I got so stuck that I mentally missed most of the meeting. I kept thinking, how can something non-life threatening be so urgent that you would overlook what’s important? I always just assumed one would know what is important: family, doing the right things, sound business principles, etc. What could be so urgent that we would not pay attention to those things?
One possible answer might come from a recent experience I had at home. Mrs. Shriber asked me to change the channel on the TV. Pretty simple, right? Well, not so. We have two remotes, one for the TV and one for the cable. I picked up the one for what I thought was the cable (she asked to change the TV, but I was smart enough to know you have to change channels on the cable box), but it was the wrong one and now I was staring at a black screen. I quickly grabbed the other one, but because I was now on the wrong TV channel, I got nothing.
Of course, you know the drill – I finally got it right and tried to figure out what went awry. Simple! I just needed to program the devices all to one remote. Have you ever tried to do this? First, you need the instructions. If you lost them, you can find them on the Internet. Then, you need codes and all sorts of other processes to get everything synced up.
The end result is maybe it works and you’re out about two hours. This is why I still have two remotes – I am setting aside the important (installing all equipment to work properly) for the urgent (watching the program NOW!)
Our world is full of things to make our lives more interesting and easier. The trouble is we all have one thing in common: There are only 24 hours in a day. That is finite for everyone. All this great technology and complicated stuff takes time. None of us have enough time. Unfortunately, the important stuff takes time too.
I hate to present a problem without a solution, so here’s my best shot. Our everyday business functions have become so complicated and intense that we sometimes never take time to focus on the important matters. Just like in football, the center is required to move the ball backwards before anyone can advance it. Business/life is no different. We must set aside time to focus on more than just the immediately urgent. If we don’t, we’ll become consumed by the day to day and never accomplish the important things.
I wish there was a silver bullet, but knowledge is power and, thanks to my co-worker, I know that this conflict exists and I can start dealing with it.
Sorry I have to go, there’s something important I urgently need to handle.