Is It Really That Urgent?

Time constantly moves but we don’t have to be

Everyone is always buzzing around and doing something.

Well, me too.

People talk about Type A and Type B and whatever it is exactly. Many say I’m very strongly biased towards type A as I’m extremely organized and clean and am always moving. Huffington Post says the difference between “Type A” and “Type B” people is basically night and day. Type A people typically have difficulty relaxing, while Type B people are laid back. Type A people generally can’t stand being slowed down, while Type B people prefer a more relaxed pace.

With that in mind, I go to sleep, with zero notifications on my phone.

I wake up, do my morning routine and then clear out all notifications, or nearly all notifications.

Yet, I know people that have hundreds and thousands of unread emails on their phones. Is that bad? Is it better to not have any unread emails? No, of course not. I cannot speak about what works better, I can only speak about what works best for me.

What works for me is allocating time to check things, like email, and then reviewing those things in bulk. Now, I’m also not a person who enjoys being part of many mailing lists, but I am on a few. During any given day I would say I now get between 35–50 emails. Yet, I know people who get over 200. But…

Are all 200 emails important?

Are any of the 200 emails urgent?

Likely both of those questions will be answered with no’s.

My common practice, as those close to me know, is to keep my iPhone on do not disturb all the time. I know that there are going to be important things, and I’ll see them when I see them. I know also, that there are urgent things, but I let my phone calls come through. If someone really really needs to reach me, they’ll call.


But, what I’ve noticed is that other people do not share that perspective. Others have their phone volume on nearly always and are constantly disturbed or disrupted by notifications.

I recently completed an audiobook by Cal Newport called Deep Work. That is all about the deeper level of work that is very very difficult to achieve with interruptions.

Cal Newport’s definition as stated was,
“Deep work is when you perform a set of activities in a distraction-free situation when you push your cognitive abilities to their limit”

That is an extremely more difficult level to reach without cutting off distractions and disruptions.


So again, is it really that urgent? Or… is it just important?

As a college student, it is easy to pull examples from my personal life or from the lives of those around me. I have a few jobs, take a full course load each semester, and am involved in other areas also. To me, all those different areas are important but not all are urgent.

Urgent does not mean importanat

If I have a semester-long project, that is important, but, at the beginning of the semester, is not urgent. So, I could plan for that important project, think about that important project, work incrementally on that important project, etc. Yet, there is no need for me to spend a lot of time or exert a lot of energy working on the project to move it towards completion right away. At the beginning of the semester, the project is important but, it is not urgent, I will have to keep this in mind as the semester picks up and projects begin to get assigned.

It is the same with email. If someone sends you an email, it may be important, but, most times, they know that there are much more effective methods of quick communication and therefore, the email should not, (at least typically speaking) be urgent.

So again, is it really that urgent? Or… is it just important?


Importance matters. So does urgency. They both do. But, there is a hierarchy to it all.

The things that are important AND urgent receive the priority.

Urgent things receive secondary attention.

Important things receive tertiary attention.

Then, everything else falls below those in the hierarchy. The value here is the energy spent. My intention is to focus only on those things that are important, urgent, and important and urgent. As I progress and continue to advance, I anticipate having a personal assistant. This person will focus on the things that are not categorized into any of those three areas. As a result, I will focus more than 90% of my time on the things I deem most important for my goals.

I think that this is a challenge for so many. There are so many things that are immediate. We can immediately contact whomever. We can immediately get food. We can immediately have answers. But, not everything NEEDS to be immediate.

It is okay to wait.

It is okay to not have things urgent.

It is okay to not reply to everything.

It is okay to recognize things as important and not give them immediate attention.

“We must use time wisely and forever realize that the time is always ripe to do right” — Nelson Mandela