Now this is a well-known time management matrix many people use to manage their daily tasks.
Using this table, the first step many people take would likely be neglecting Not-Important trivia and spending efforts on Important-Urgent matters. And so these matters grow. The problems get bigger and bigger and all energy will be used to manage problems and deadlines.
How about Important but Not-Urgent endeavors?
They may never get done since Important-Urgent are consuming all the time and energy.
But it’s Important + Non-Urgent matters that make the difference. They are usually long-term vision, planning, expectation management, capabilities enhancement, maintenance and opportunity realization.
Focusing on Important + Non-Urgent issues is opportunity-minded, more than sheer problem-solving-minded.
How to focus on Important and Non-Urgent matters
Neglecting Non-Important requires some techniques:
- Say ‘No’ to trivia
- Tell the phone caller you’re busy and will call back
- Check emails at fixed times and solve all unread emails all at once. Of course, in some conditions you’re required to open email application but if not, consider not letting it disturb your concentration
But then to avoid falling into pressing matters and to focus on Important but Non-Urgent matters requires more than techniques.
It requires vision, imagination, desire, discipline, commitment, and balance.
You need to have clear visions of your life. Where do you see yourself in 3 years, 5 years, 10 years, 20 years, at 60, till the rest of your life?
Many industries change dramatically, but organization doesn’t change that much. Societies evolve rapidly, but many social values don’t change as fast.
Have your vision.
Because without visions it’s easy to get lost in circles of life and even trapped in your own decisions.
To be able to build visions, imagination is crucial. You can imagine how and what you will be doing towards your goals of life. Then how and what you will be doing after accomplishing certain milestones of your life.
Have had a vision? Desire it with all you’ve got. Desire is different from greed.
Desiring a vision keeps you on-track and over temptations on the way.
Following a vision requires high discipline. Almost no one but you yourself keep track of your progress, so fit yourself in your schedule.
A plan without deadlines is no plan.
Even higher than discipline, it requires commitment. Commitment to your vision, your values, your goals, your targets. Commitment to what’re truly important to you in the long run.
Persistently following a vision is painful and it’s easy to be off-tracked or lured by temptations.
Mental and physical balance should be met for you to always focus.
On Organization level
I’ve discussed leadership and capability development on individual (or personal) level.
The same principles apply for organizational leadership.
Leadership is different from management is that leadership points out the direction and builds up long-term capabilities to reach the goals.
Spending efforts on strategic planning, developing capabilities reduces risks and put crises under control.
Take one example in Human Resource. It’s wise to develop some practices:
- Develop the skills of resources, both for immediate tasks and long-term development business needs
- Encourage self-learning
- Backup and rotate resources
- Utilize the right person with the right skill for the right job
This articles encourages shifting the focus from Urgency to Importance which, if done, can create positive energy in your life and/or your organization.