Tyranny of the Urgent

If you haven’t read Charles Hummel’s book The Tyranny of the Urgent  written in the late 60s, you really should. Hummel created the distinction between the URGENT and the IMPORTANT items that take our time each day.

In the event that you were too busy working on urgent things to read this book, let me give you a quick overview.

URGENT tasks end up filling our days, and they include things like phone calls that zap an hour, an email request that becomes a full-blown exchange, an angry boss who needs to be calmed, a last-minute work request caused by someone’s lack of planning, the quick Facebook status scan over lunch that gets you caught up in friend’s drama for too long. We all have URGENT items that take our time during each day. Most URGENT items need attention. But…

But URGENT shouldn’t come at the expense of what’s most IMPORTANT.

IMPORTANT things are what matters most to you in the long haul, and they might include preserving quality time with your family, building more meaningful relationships with others, or pursuing a deeper relationship with God.

Hummel created four simple points for getting the most out of the time we have to live:

  1. Decide what’s most important in your life
  2. Discover how you’re currently using your time
  3. Budget your time
  4. Follow through on your budget

So here’s the simple yet weighty question for the day: Are you scheduling time for what’s IMPORTANT in your life?

It’s easy to get caught up in the tyranny of the urgent, the drama that surround us. Urgent requests take more than minutes from us; they can steal hours each day, days each month, and years over a lifetime.

Bosses, coworkers, employees, and clients schedule your time during each work day for things that they find urgent. You shouldn’t blow them off! But you should be just as committed to yourself by scheduling time for what’s IMPORTANT to you.

Which would you rather say at the end of your life:

  1. I did everything that was asked of me?
  2. I did the things that mattered most to me?

You can’t create more hours in the day, but you can schedule time for the things that matter most.

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