Overtime working = Urgent, but Are They Important?

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Coming home at 10 pm is not something new for me.

Although it has become quite common for me and (I’m sure) everyone who works in Jakarta, my tolerance for overtime working hour is still relatively low. I do not blame anyone but me for this, and most of the time I keep questioning myself whether I created the problem by (and for) myself — or not.

The result was not good — I got burnt out very easily and becoming careless, even ignorant to the work that I should be doing. I feel stuck and bored, and the impact was not only to the quality of the work itself, but the way I appreciate things around me, even the smallest one (I got excited very easily over the mundane things, usually).

So I talked to one of my friends about what I had been feeling lately. We both experienced the same thing, yet we both agree that the problem comes from ourselves. It is about nothing but time management.

She told me that she has always been a fan of Stephen Covey, and she also told me that one of the reasons why we keep on becoming the first people who arrived at the office yet almost always becoming the last people who went home, is because we are filling our time by doing things that are urgent but not important, and when we are bored, we tend to do things that are not urgent and not important.

Based on Stephen Covey, there are four quadrants of time management:

The time management grid could help us organizing our priorities and differentiates things that are urgent and those that are important. According to Brefi group, important activities have an outcome that leads to the achievement of our goals, whether these are professional or personal, while urgent activities demand immediate attention, and are often associated with the achievement of someone else’s goals.

The point of Covey’s matrix is to help us doing things before that are becoming urgent. To focus to important things before they are turning into something urgent — as I understand this will need a proper planning and prediction. Relating to what happen to me daily, I tend to set aside the important work and have a mindset of getting things done as quickly as I can, so I’m always seeking for the urgent things rather than finishing the important ones.

To help an easier understanding about this matrix, Covey uses a metaphor which involves rock, pebbles, and sand to indicate important, big things compared to the small, urgent ones.

Imagine when we have to fill a jar with those three materials; rock, sand, and pebbles. When we fill it with sand first, followed by pebbles — the big rocks won’t fit, right? But what happen when we put the big rocks first, followed by pebbles, then sand? It will fit perfectly because the sand and pebbles could fill the empty space among the big rocks. The point is, when we fill our time with small things first, we will not have enough time to do the bigger, more important ones. What I am doing daily is I keep filling my jar with pebbles — important, yet urgent things first. That has always been my priority daily. What is the outcome of putting important and urgent things as priority?

Stress, burn-out, putting out fires — all negative effect will become the outcome of putting important and urgent matters as priority.

As we can see above, the balanced, positive vibe could be gained when we are putting important yet not urgent things first. That way, we could deliver high-quality works and indicate that we are discipline and in control of what we’re doing.

So, the point is — writing down, planning, and predicting our priorities of things that are important but not urgent could actually help us managing our time and delivering high quality work timely instead of trying to finish small, urgent things in the first place.

Reference:

http://www.brefigroup.co.uk/acrobat/quadrnts.pdf

http://aileen-gallagher.com/2011/10/have-you-got-your-rocks-in-the-jar.html


Originally published at heedandwalk.tumblr.com.