What Makes One Thing More Important Than Another?

How to Decide What’s Urgent, Important or Not

Since the start of the new year, I’ve been working to find clarity in my prioritizing. I wrote about the value of time and how to decide where to spend it. I wrote about the importance of putting the big rocks in first and determining what makes one rock more important than another.

This is the hard part.

Rocks are hard…get it? 😊

Steven Covey’s time management quadrant in the previous post makes the idea of sorting things into the 4 areas clear. Different things need a different level of attention given to them.

  • Quadrant 1 is fire-fighting (urgent & important). This is easily recognized and where most of us spend way too much time. This is the get down to the core action of, if the house is on fire and the phones ringing…do we answer the phone or get the kids out of the house? The problem is we should have spent more on important rather than urgent and maybe we could have prevented the fire.
  • Quadrant 2 is quality time (important & not urgent). This is the area where we should focus. It’s where we get the most return on our investment of time and energy. It’s also the hardest because there’s no immediate rush like there is when fighting fires.
  • Quadrant 3 is distractions (urgent & not important). We can fill this quadrant with an endless list of small and trivial tasks convincing ourselves that they are important, because they probably are. The things in this quadrant require less time and energy than the ‘really’ important tasks. The question is, are you doing them because they’re important…or because it feels good to check thing off the list?
  • Quadrant 4 is time-wasters (not important & not urgent). The things in this quadrant are the things of least importance. These things serve no direct purpose in accomplishing the important things in your life. You want to avoid wasting time on these things.

We have a limited amount of time…spend it wisely.

As I read through the different quadrants in this example, I was perplexed with some of the things listed.

It seemed to me that some of the things in quadrant 4 were important things and not necessarily time wasters, i.e. entertainment (TV) and stress relief. In quadrant 2 was recreational activities. For me watching TV is recreational. And isn’t “relieving of stress” pretty important? The more I studied it the clearer it became…

It’s up to us what goes in our quadrants!

It comes down to being crystal clear on who we are and what our specific purpose is. This is the problem. Most of us haven’t or don’t want to spend the time and energy to figure it out. We just float through life without a clear direction of where we’re going or how we’re going to get there.

In the Ayn Rand book Fountainhead architect Howard Roark is super clear on who he is and what he’s willing to do or not. Because of his lack of conformity to the status quo, he struggles to make a living. He is almost broke but is given an opportunity to design and build a bank building that would be very profitable for him.

As he meets with the bank board, they ask him to make a few changes that would require that he conform. He turns the job down and goes to work doing manual labor in a quarry.

I want Howard Roark’s clarity.

I do think there is a place for conformity. It’s not always wise to cut one’s nose off to spite one’s face. However if we have Mr. Roark’s clarity, we can then determine what makes things urgent, important or not in our lives.

You get to decide, but if you want clarity…you have to decide.

We All Want to be Members of Exclusive Clubs

The word "Exclusive" in a starburst

 

 

What is it That Draws Us to be a Part of These Groups?

 

Exclusive makes us feel special. We want to be somebody, to be valuable, to stand out from the crowd. We think exclusive clubs will do this for us. If there’s only room for a few and I get in, then I’m important.

 


Collins dictionary defines exclusive as, something that is used or owned by only one person or group, not shared and limited to people with a lot of money or who are privileged. The world is full of exclusive clubs that require some very expensive and/or bizarre requirements to even be considered.


This is how the world perceives special.


There’s a story of a boy whose older brother had started a “club” with some of his friends. The younger brother wanted to join so bad that he was willing to do anything, including jumping from the top of the stairs, which resulted in a broken ankle. The cost to joining clubs can be painful.

 

There’s a different kind of club out there called the Kingdom Club. It’s inclusive and easy to join. All that’s required is accepting the invitation and willingness to follow a few simple rules.

 

  • Recognize your spiritual needs
  • Share in grief
  • Be humble
  • Desire to do right
  • Show mercy to others
  • Desire pure thoughts
  • Work for peace
  • Willingness to suffer for doing what’s right


These rules are explained in the Kingdom Club handbook, Matthew 5:1-12. Just go to the clubhouse door, knock and it will open, Matthew 7:7-8, Luke 11:9-10.


Joining the Kingdom Club is so easy that most people think it’s too good to be true. Or, they’re afraid that it’s so easy that they will be lost in the crowd. That’s one of the best things about this club, joining it allows our “special” to radiate.


The Kingdom Club is full of nothing but special people.

 

This is a good club to be in!

 

Deciding What Should Be First on The List

 

 

 

 

 

It’s Amazing How Things Become Clear with A Limited Amount of Time

 

There are so many things trying to get on the “to do” list and each one competing for the top position. Deciding which one should get that spot is tough. There are so many great and important things that we need or want to do.


It’s easy to say that we have limited time, but hard to actually schedule that way.


My computer’s battery is not lasting as long as it did when it was new. Recently while working out of the office, without the power cord, I had 2-3 things that I wanted to get done before the computer shut down. This limited time forced me to sort and prioritize them.


How do we decide what to say yes to


Emergency situations often require triage. This is the process of prioritizing patients’ treatments based on the severity of their condition and the resources available. In these situations, victims are divided into three categories.

 

  • Those who are likely to live, regardless of what care they receive;
  • Those who are unlikely to live, regardless of what care they receive:
  • Those for whom immediate care might make a positive difference in outcome.

 

These choices aren’t easy and often require a quick “gut decision”. A pre-determined system, training and experience aid in the process and provide for the greatest number of survivors.


Another life and death choice is deciding who gets a transplant when there are a limited number of organ donations available. Take for example a set of twins who both need a liver transplant and their father has one liver to give. Which little girl gets it? The early thoughts of a father would be to give half to each. The problem with this, half would help neither. The final decision will be determined by which one needs it most or which one is most likely to survive.

 


Most of the choices that we make in business aren’t this critical…or are they? The decisions we make can mean life or death for our business.

 

In medical life or death situations there is a system and plan in place before hand. This same type of system should be implemented in our business. We should predetermine how we are going to choose the most important thing to the life of our business. This is where things get hard.

 


What makes one thing more important than another?


 

What should be the highest priority? Should it be production or proposals, record keeping or customer service, marketing or staff? We’re faced with tough decisions in business every day.

 


I can’t answer this question for you, but I’m tired of struggling with this dilemma and plan to design and implement a “business triage” system going forward.


What will give my business the highest chance for survival?