Living and working focusing on what is important instead of sinking in the currents of the urgent is one of those things that are extremely complicated, extremely uncomfortable, but that are indisputably worthwhile.
Work on a project, instead of “taking out the daily work”; Carrying out an exercise routine to regain condition or line, rather than submitting to the delights of routine, bed, or laziness is familiar ground. In this life, good things cost , our grandmother already told us …
However, the process of learning to say no to the unimportant is not so difficult or so mysterious . In the context of a work team, of a vibrant organization with one or more bosses demanding results, with clients who demand immediate and effective responses to their requirements, with shareholders and corporations who want to be up-to-date on information, etc., it is a challenge to live in the Important-Non-Urgent quadrant.
Creating a work style where the focus on important , strategic, preventive and non-corrective and urgent things predominates is something that can be achieved basically through 2 very specific strategies :
- Develop a common language between colleagues and bosses, which helps distinguish urgent matters from important ones , to generate pertinent adjustments in work processes that allow the team and the organization to move towards the Important-Non-Urgent quadrant.
- Saying no to the least important, which means controlling our internal conversations so that we don’t give up our valuable time and energy at the first opportunity . I am talking about strategies that allow us to defend ourselves from the attacks of the Urgent-Not Important, Quadrant 3.
There are questions that can help us handle interruptions or low priority requests, or at least better understand what the person is asking for.
Many, many people complain bitterly that they cannot do what they want because all the time they receive urgent requests. Continuous, concentrated, high-quality work does not exist, in his words.
In our experience, what actually happens is that when an individual is concentrating on a complex task (for example, writing a report full of numbers associated with a formula) is interrupted, the interrupted person offers naturally resistance to even hearing the other’s interruption. Let’s not say understand what it is about.
Before the onslaught of an interruption , which can be from a very important person to you to a small sound emitted by your smartphone announcing the receipt of an email, we must consciously go through the following process that we have called :
Time to choose:
- Pause and ask ourselves, is this important? Verify its significance, who it is, the risks involved, etc. It is about activating our prefrontal cortex and truly choosing, investigating the relevance of the matter.
This may take only a few seconds. This step is very important because if it fails, the reactive brain will probably take over your response and offer in a bad way a completely useless apology, evasion or insult.
- Clarify: Itmeans to investigate in depth the circumstances or context of what is requested. Here questions such as:
- When does this activity really have to be done?
- Is there another resource, person, or method to accomplish this activity?
- Which of all my priorities is it important to do now?
- Decide:In this step, you have the most information to correctly choose the path to follow. It can be saying yes to the issue that comes up, it can be postponing the discussion or answer for another time, thousands of possibilities based on the analysis of the data and not on the deceptive appearances of the first impression.