Yesterday [ed: for some definition of “yesterday”] I talked about how to balance reactive work and proactive work or, or how I don’t succeed in balancing reactive and proactive work. And it struck me that this is kind of related to the urgent versus important distinction that I’ve sometimes found useful.
I can’t remember where I first encountered the framing of urgent work versus important work. So I googled it just now. And it turns out that US president, Dwight Eisenhower seems to have popularized it, though he credits another president, this one of Northwestern University for the idea. And there’s a lot of commentary online about the Eisenhower Principle, so Google it if you’re interested.
As often happens, I somewhat misremembered the concept and adapted it in my own life to my own brain.
As expressed by Eisenhower, urgent tasks are not important and are a kind of distraction from important work. Urgent tasks have a kind of false importance, maybe.
I get that and I do think that’s helpful framing. But the way I interpret urgent and important in my daily work life is that they are two different things to balance. Urgent tasks are urgent because they need attention right away. Important tasks risk getting crowded out by urgent tasks, so you have to be more proactive about managing your work on them.
The challenge seems to be more complicated to me than just avoiding the siren call of the urgent.
The challenge is to find the right balance between urgent and important. What do you think?
Today’s music is “Velvet Lounge Bounce” from the 2006 Indigo Trio “Live in Montreal” album. Nicole Mitchell, Harrison Bankhead, Hamid Drake.