What Matter Most: Important vs Urgent?

I recall taking a time management course a few years back that pointed out most things in life are either important and/or urgent.  The urgent stuff usually gets done first, regardless of if it is important.  For example, do you check your email right after you get a new message at work?  95% of the time it’s only urgent in your mind yet not important to do.  So we fill our lives with the little things like checking email meanwhile what is important but not urgent languishes on our to do list for a long time.

I’ve been guilty on not taking this concept far enough in my life.   I haven’t been asking myself what’s important to me to obtain my long terms goals of being happy and retiring early.  I’m been in a almost pure reaction to what’s urgent at home for months now with regards to happiness.  I haven’t asked what is important for me to be happy and how do I make that part of my daily life.

So I have pushed off things that I enjoy like:

  • Working on my book more than once every two weeks.
  • Starting a new batch of wine.
  • Tiling part of my fireplace with granite.
  • Planning our garden for spring and planting some seeds indoors.

Instead I keep working on things that just come up, so I end up reacting rather than planning my life. Therefore if you have noticed my blog posts have been lack luster for a while, you can blame that on I’ve been on autopilot for months now.  I haven’t felt engaged in much of what I’ve been doing so my creative process on ideas for posts which was often a fire hose at times has lately been a trickle.  That to me is a sure sign of something is wrong, but I wasn’t ready to see it.

This entire revelation came out of a meeting with my boss at my day job in which we were talking about strategic planning for our department.  Which to me is very ironic that it took my day job to tell me why I had been unhappy at home.

So this weekend I’m going to do more things that I enjoy (like those listed above) and spend some time thinking on what matters most in my life and ask how am I getting there?  It’s time for a happiness reboot and for me to turn off the autopilot.

Have you ever spent a long while in autopilot?  How did you snap out of it?

5 thoughts on “What Matter Most: Important vs Urgent?”

  1. I have found that I do best when I write a list of goals for each day, and for each quarter. The lists include life priorities, like family, fitness, and work. I tend to oscillate back and forth between doing the above and not doing it; however, life is better when I make the lists. I am more reactionary when I don’t.

  2. I know exactly what you’re talking about, Tim (I believe).

    I’ve been on autopilot for the last 1.5 years. This has mostly been due to a substantial shift in my work place that had an impact on me.

    Your metaphor of a fire hose trickling is dead on. I call it apathy. A learned helplessness so to speak.

    What I need to change is my job, only this all occurred during a time – and currently as well – when having a job is a blessing. There just isn’t much of anything available. So as a result, I have turned on a survival mechanism. Autopilot as you call it, Apathy.

    Did I notice this change in you not long after your took on that board position?


  3. Adam,

    Mmm, apathy is sort of what I’m getting at, not exactly, but similar.

    My change occurred about 2 months ago, so about 3 months after having the board job. I know the second job is a problem in regards of taking up so much of my time and that is what I’m getting at. My balance is right out to lunch right now.


  4. I was on auto-pilot for years. I only noticed it when I realized I was way off course and no where near where I wanted to be. I still have to stop myself from slipping back into auto-pilot. Getting back on track seems so far in the future and even though I know I’m taking the right steps, it’s demotivating. So I’m not sure I “snapped out of it”, but I’m working at it.

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