urgent : very important and needing immediate attention.
Important : of great significance or value; likely to have a profound effect on success, survival, or well-being.
Years ago I went to a class regarding how to use a Franklin-Covey planner. This class changed forever the way I viewed urgency verses importance. If you have read The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People you know what I am talking about. What is urgent, is not always what is important, and what is most important, is not always urgent. I use to get those mixed up. Some are one, or the other, some things are both. If your house is on fire it is urgent and important. Needing to prepare a healthy meal or exercise, is important but not necessarily urgent. I use to run to anything that was urgent, regardless of how low it was on my priority list. I still have to stop sometimes and think about it.
We can get distracted so easily. Often we run around taking care of these urgent distractions and neglect what is truly important. Sometimes the feeling of hunger can be so distracting it feels urgent to eat what is available and easy to grab right away instead of taking the time to prepare something healthy even when we have the ingredients available. The same holds true with being tired. Exhaustion can feel so urgent we neglect what is really important like exercise.
I can sometimes run around taking care of urgent events, or spontaneous tasks and overlook what matters most. Our children are good at creating urgent situations that are not necessarily important, or at least not needing immediate response. It’s kind of like the squeaky wheel gets the oil, but there are a lot of squeaks that can wait a bit. This does not mean they don’t have value or don’t matter, it just means we prioritize.
I think we often run to what is urgent to avoid what is truly important. Urgent can often be easier or produce immediate gratification. We live in a world where we want what we want right now. Doing what is important sometimes take a while to see results, like eating healthy or staying committed to that exercise plan.
Some of these urgent things become excuses for not dealing with the important matters. A way we rationalize behavior. A lot of mothers do this with their kids. They use an urgent situation with their children to avoid self care. The reality is, if your not taking care of your health, you may not be able to be there for your kids.
I love the healthy food I prepare. If I have a craving, I can usually plan a way to have what I want to eat within reason. I love pizza, but in order for me to have it, I have to make my own with healthy ingredients, and probably adjust what I’m eating earlier in that day to allow the extra calories even a home made pizza might have. It’s so much easier to just pick up the phone and order take out. But taking the time to make something healthy not only helps my weight loss efforts but it’s more satisfying and cheaper too. Also I do not have the guilt, or the beginning of a downhill spiral. That is important, it is likely to have a profound effect on success, survival, or my well-being.
So next time you feel an urgency, take a moment to think of it’s importance. Do what truly matters first, and work down that list. You won’t believe how much more order your life will have and you will probably be more productive as well.