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Urgent vs. Important

by Randall Craig on September 16, 2008

Filed in: Blog, Make It Happen Tipsheet, Management, Planning,

Tagged as: , , ,

We are a society looking for instant gratification. When a customer calls, we rush to meet their needs. When we check into a hotel, we expect prompt, courteous service. When we drive our cars, we always take the shortest routes – at the fastest speeds. And when we do a great job, we want to be recognized for it – immediately. Unfortunately, not all things can – or should – happen instantly; some things take time.

There are many shorter-term demands on our time, both at work and at home. Our managers, customers, suppliers, and co-workers all have expectations of us. Our families do too. We make promises to all of these people, and when we deliver, we enjoy a gratifying “thank you”, as well as the intrinsic satisfaction of a job well done.

But what of the longer-term commitments that we make; the ones that are easily deferred when short term priorities (and crises) get in the way? Is there a trick to balancing them out? Probably the most effective way is to simply schedule specific time, every day, to work on longer-term commitments. During this time, don’t take calls, emails, nor schedule meetings. Even if the time scheduled is only 20-30 minutes, it doesn’t take long for the minutes – and your accomplishments – to add up.

This week’s action item: Of all of the items on your to-do list, choose one of them, and schedule it into a fixed, daily slot. And while your calendar is open, schedule some time a few months from now, to look back at the “important” progress you’ve made.

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Randall Craig

@RandallCraig (follow me)



Randall has been advising on Web and Social Strategy since 1994 when he put the Toronto Star online, the Globe and Mail's GlobeInvestor/Globefund, several financial institutions, and about 100+ other major organizations. He is the author of seven books, including the recently released "Everything Guide to Starting an Online Business", and speaks across North America on Social Media and Web Strategy. More at and

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