Tyranny of the urgent.

I kept a diary of how I spent my time recently, and noted a number of things I suspected, but did not have the “data” such as it was.

    1. Being “connected” had reduced my productivity significantly. My concentration was broken when emails came in, seemingly demanding just a look, people ringing, texting, just wanting an immediate response/decision irrespective of my current load, and capacity to appropriately consider the response. 
    2. The discipline of the “to do” list had been destroyed. As a young bloke, I did a list for the next day, last thing every night. That list offered a priority guide, time allocation, a memory prompt, and a record of activity each day. Whilst like most plans it was a point from which to depart, it still gave structure to my day, week, and priorities. That discipline has effectively gone in the  welter of competing tasks surfaced by connectivity.
    3. My  “head-time” had been destroyed. In the dim, dark, unconnected past, I had time to consider options, seek considered input, and just allow a situation to stew in my brain over a period, which often led to options not consciously in the mix at the outset. This happened as I walked at lunch-time, sat in traffic, over the weekend, and just having a casual chat with colleagues whose council may have added a perspective. All that valuable head-time is gone, driven away by the access and immediacy of the devices in my pocket, and the expectation of others that an immediate response is mandatory.  

Years ago, a mentor urged me to distinguish between the urgent but not important, and the important but not urgent, and act accordingly. Being connected has given the urgent a huge increase in leverage at the expense of the important, and it is taking a real effort to redress the imbalance.

I have reverted to a to do list that structures my day, turn off all devices in the middle of the day and take a hobble around the block and talk to myself or a colleague, and set out to do the most important thing on my list first thing in the day. This added discipline is proving to be much harder than I thought, but useful. My personal productivity seems to have lifted, as has my satisfaction with the tasks completed every day.

About strategyaudit

StrategyAudit is a boutique strategy and marketing consultancy concentrating on the challenges of the medium sized manufacturing businesses that make up the backbone of our economy. The particular focus is on their strategic and marketing development. as well as the business and operational efficiency improvements necessary for day to day commercial survival. We not only give advice, we go down "into the weeds" to ensure and enable implementation.
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1 Response to Tyranny of the urgent.

  1. Tony Dowling says:

    I couldnt agree more! its all about being in control. Great perspective, thanks for sharing

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