IT’S URGENT!

How “urgent” are the urgent things in your life? I’m slowly learning that much of what I consider urgent, isn’t truly urgent at all. It usually has more to do with my URGes than being genuinely urgent. My urg to produce, my urg to succeed, my urg to accomplish, my urg to create security, my urg to finish things, my urg to start things, my urg to get on to the next thing.

Being at CPC is a good reminder, because everytime I am at a week long event, everything else gets set aside, or delayed, or postponed and it frustrates me, but it also reminds me that those things truly can wait a week. If I hadn’t been at CPC they would all have been urgent THIS week, now they will just be urgent NEXT week.

Or when I get sick – the world survives all my urgent things getting done later. My family survives, my ministry survives, and the things that truly need to get done, DO get done, in time. In fact, looking back, even the things I’ve accomplished (and I’d like to think I have accomplished a few good things in life!) don’t really matter now exactly WHEN they got accomplished, I mean, whether they had gotten accomplished a week sooner than they did, or if they had been delayed a month or so.

All this rambling is self-theropy because I’m feeling the pressure of several projects all coming to a head that have been advancing for a lot longer than I’d like, but are looking like they will soon launch or be completed. I’m eager for them to be done so I can have less to manage, but I know new things will take their place. So I might as well accept that what they actually are in a way is irrelevant, since there will always be things I’m working on and wishing were done.

The key is not to get them all done, it is to LIVE LIFE IN THE MIDST OF THEM. To make sure I truly live when and where I am, instead of living in an imaginary future when I am out from under pending projects, since that time will most likely never exist.

What is truly urgent? Probably nothing. And yet the urgent can run our life. Add an “i” to that – the urgent can ruin our life if we let it!

You may be familiar with the “Four Quadrants” – if not, you should! You can probably figure it out from the diagram above. The idea is that EVERYTHING you do, or more importantly, everything you WANT to do, and NEED to do, fit in one of those quadrants:

  1. Important AND Urgent
  2. Important but not Urgent
  3. Not Important BUT Urgent
  4. Not Important or Urgent

Studies repeatedly show that we spend most of our time doing things that are Important and Urgent (because, well, you have to) or doing things that are neither important or urgent. The biggest time waster is messing with urgent things that truly aren’t important to you. The goal, is to focus on things that are in Quandant Two: They are important but NEVER “urgent.” (or doing them before they become urgent.)

While I have officially declared via Twitter (on Dec. 30th) that my New Year will start on January 12th, one of the things I am working on is listing my Quadrant Two items and scheduling them so I’ll do a better job in 2009 of putting those things higher on my lists of to-do’s.

Let me challenge you – draw the table above on a full sheet of paper and then take some time to reflect and list the daily activities that fall under Quandrants 1,3 and 4 and then what you’d like to have in 2 – and then start planning how to do more of the Important items that are never urgent. (or how to do them before they become urgent and you can’t do them as well.)

Relax. There are many important things to do in life, but few of them are truly urgent. Nearly all of them CAN be done tomorrow or next week. Some you can’t put them off indefinitely (some you can!) but don’t let them ruin today. Enjoy today, those things will still be there tomorrow, IF they are truly important.

OK, my self-theropy session is over. Now that I have reminded myself that all things I will get behind on this week at CPC truly aren’t urgent, I think I can go to sleep. But first, before I call it a night, one Quandrant Two item: Prayer.

Good Night! Live blogging of CPC begins tomorrow!

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2 Comments:

  1. I was just praying about that this morning – feeling like there is so much on my plate and that I want to get done – perhaps not urgent but there are so many and I am on holidays! My urge is to get all these things done before I go back to work and I am concerned I cant fit it all in! Then I checked my emails and saw your article and thought ‘there’s my answer from God – Relax, it will eventually get done and there will always be more to do. What is important is being present and live each day to the fullest, making priorities right and choosing the important things!’

    Thanks Karl

  2. Hi
    Loved your ‘it’s urgent’ article. I work as a Primary School Chaplain in Australia (Government school / non-christian). I write a fortnightly article and would like your permission to use all or part of your article in the near future.
    Yours in Christ
    Gary Lewis

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