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Lately, it seems I spend a great deal of my work day putting out fires. We all know the feeling. You start out with a well-organized “to-do” list and before you can finish your morning e-mails, something crosses your path that MUST be done NOW. The next thing you know, you have missed lunch, it’s 5 o’clock and you realize how little you really accomplished. Even worse, you also realize that the fire burning up your day was little more than a smoke ring. When this goes on long enough, the important things never get attention until they become the truly urgent.
This week has really brought this into focus for me. I had several meetings and phone calls that were not urgent, but very important and vice-versa. As I reflect on them, it becomes clear just how satisfying it can be to tend to the important. Putting out that fire may offer a sense of heroism – after all, I saved the day. Doing the important feeds my soul. There is little stress in tending to the important and there is a bone-deep feeling of satisfaction at the end of the day. The trick in business sometimes is sorting out the two.
A note from my daughter made me think about this as it applies my personal life. She was inviting me to attend a girls night out with her friends in a couple of weeks. Her maid of honor is visiting from California. Our Bride wants to gather all the girls together since many of her friends have never met this young woman who is so important to her. I’m not a party person, it’s a weeknight, and why in the world would the girls want “Mom” there? What is wrong with me? None of that matters. It is IMPORTANT to my daughter, SHE asked me to be there. That’s what I needed to understand, what is important to my daughter is important to me.
I have been reasonably consistent in setting aside time to tangle. I have come to understand that it is important for my well-being. It is a time of relaxation and intense focus. Somehow the answers become clearer, creativity flourishes and the important is easy to identify. Try it sometime. Invest in the important.