Messages from the Masters
Important vs. Urgent by Tony Jeary

Priorities refer to those things that are important.

Many are still in the habit of "reacting" to the urgent rather than "responding" to the important. Think about this statement. Important activities should be of high priority because they are the things that contribute significantly to our objectives. They have more "long-term" impact. They should help us the most in reaching our goals. Don't prioritize based on who gave you the work; fit it based on its importance and urgency and who should be handling it based on responsibilities, skills, and capacity.

Urgent activities usually are more "short-term" in nature and may or may not relate to our objectives. They usually do not make significant contributions. They make endless demands on our time and pressure us daily.

There is a constant tension that develops between the urgent and the important. Because the important things seldom need to be done today, and the urgent almost always do, there is a critical need for learning to set proper priorities so that our visions, goals, and desires can be met more effectively.

Most people don't take the time to prioritize. They are usually reactive. We recommend you be proactive.

Here is a list of time-gaining events to help you more effectively prioritize. Enter the approximate amount of time you feel you will gain each day by successfully performing the selected events, changing your habits and using your tools.

1. Setting priorities during your daily planning, eliminating unproductive tasks gains valuable time.

2. Having a written agenda, and following it, for every meeting with no more than three objectives gains valuable wasted time from long, ineffective, rambling meetings.

3. Learning to "say no" to demands that don't benefit you, or sending the request to the appropriate person, helps you to "double" the time gained by not reacting to the demand, and by freeing you up to do what DOES benefit you.

4. Learning when your high-energy time is and scheduling your priority work for this time gains minutes through more effective and empowering work.

5. Prioritize your reading by learning to skim articles, memos, books etc. Then read only what really gives you value. This will gain you crucial daily time every time you read.

6. Request that people that send you e-mails, prioritizing and spelling out the actions they are asking of you with clear bullet points, not long narratives.

7. Write down what your objectives are before you return phone calls to gain time through quicker, more effective communication.

8. Early in the day, sorting mail and placing each piece appropriately (now, future, trash) gains valuable time throughout the day as each piece is addressed only once.

9. Asking the originator of a document to send you ONLY the relevant information that pertains to you gains time by not wasting it on reading information that is irrelevant to you.

10. Create lists often. This helps with focus and multi-tasking.

11. Prioritize and review the list of tasks you have given a subordinate. Clarity and merging of the minds often uncover shortcuts.

12. Gain time by having visitors screened and only meet with those visitors whom you must. Stand when you greet drop-ins, sit only if YOU want to.

13. Use a DaytimerTM or electronic datebook to help prioritize daily events.

After going through this list of 13 activities, add up the approximate time you believe you would save on a weekly basis – and then start doing it!

Your Coach,
Tony Jeary – Mr. PresentationTM   

Tony Jeary – Mr. PresentationTM - is the author of 7 books on the subject of presentation, including Inspire Any Audience and The Complete Guide to Effective Facilitation. For more information about Tony or to order his products and save 20-40% go to

Provided courtesy of  Jim Rohn International

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