The Toughest Word of All

The Toughest Word of All

Chances are good that one of the first things you did today was to check and/or clear out your email. It’s almost habitual isn’t it?


Who’s tried to reach me?


What do they want?


What do I need to respond to now?


In fact most people invest a huge amount of their day wrapped in the arms of technology – to include their omnipresent cell phone, texts, emails, and the various social/communication media vehicles that present themselves.


Does it make you more productive?


Probably not.


Many workers feel so compelled to stay ahead of the information curve that they fail to recognize they are becoming a part of the technology casualty list.  The Big U Urgent takes priority over The Big I Important. We are literally bombarded with stimuli that seem to demand our action in some way.


Differentiating Urgent from Important can be tough – and developing a strategy to make certain you work your day with a focus on The Important requires some skills many don’t consider – or try and cultivate. Minus that we default to The Urgent.


Translation – at least we stay busy.


Here are a couple of points you might consider in identifying what is Important as you plan and execute your day – a simple acronym that can help you prioritize where your energy should be invested. When a task that might demand even one minute of your time crosses your desk stop to consider whether it is:

  • Individually assigned to youare you the one person accountable for its completion? (Now, factor that against the myriad of “requests” that come across email – often sent to a cast of thousands.)
  • Mission critical– to my job assignment?
  • Pertinent to my area of expertise? If it’s not in your wheelhouse you’re better served in letting it pass! Life will go on.
  • Organizationally required– does it align with the Goals and Objectives we have in place for my business unit? (If not – IGNORE.)
  • Relevant to what must be done for me to realize my business results this week, this month, and this year? Said another way – will completing this go a long way in paying my bills at year-end? If not – drop it!
  • Time dependent– is there a “need for speed” that will weigh heavily on my success? Yes – some things can be Important AND Urgent – and they move to the front of the line.
  • Achievable within the confines of my current role? The vague requests that cross our lives are legion – if there is no definitive finish line you’re better served in not starting the race.
  • Non-negotiable. Translation – this belongs to me – and there is no room for debate on that point.  Once again, move it to the top of the list!
  • Trackable.  If you can’t assess progress then you can’t waste time and effort on a project that never should have been started in the first place. Any item of true importance must have some vehicle to measure success – otherwise you’re playing a game without end.




Pretty simple formula – and time tested to work.


The toughest part of any business strategy might lie not in what we choose to do but in what we choose NOT to do


Every great strategist embraces the Power of No.


It’s a bright new day – you have 1,440 minutes to live it. Make them count!



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