Today I’d like to emphasize the difference between urgent and important. This difference is often discussed on management-blogs and mainly focusses on productivity and doing your own job rather than someone else’s. If you want to read about the productivity-side of this story, take a look here or here.
I would like to discuss the difference between these two not in your job, but concerning your job.
In my post “faking it“, I already referred to a post by Sam Spurklin on the limitations of our focus. In this post I’d like to add another constraint everyone is tied to, our limited time. We all have a limited time on this planet. When thinking in that context, the difference between urgent and important gets a whole different meaning.
In management-context, we continuously ask ourself is this task important according to the project I’m working on. We rarely ask ourselves: should I be doing this project at all? This question is one of the most profound questions you can (and should!) ask yourself. Am I doing what I should be doing? Do I want to be remembered by what I am doing at this very moment? Am I creating a life that reflects what I am about? Or as Bill Watterson wrote:
Ambition is only understood if it’s to rise to the top of some imaginary ladder of success. Someone who takes an undemanding job because it affords him the time to pursue other interests and activities is considered a flake. A person who abandons a career in order to stay home and raise children is considered not to be living up to his potential — as if a job title and salary are the sole measure of human worth.
You’ll be told in a hundred ways, some subtle and some not, to keep climbing, and never be satisfied with where you are, who you are, and what you’re doing. There are a million ways to sell yourself out, and I guarantee you’ll hear about them.
To invent your own life’s meaning is not easy, but it’s still allowed, and I think you’ll be happier for the trouble.
Keep an eye on the difference between urgent and important. Not because it will make you more productive or to satisfy your boss, but because it might help you become who you want to be.