Why are you so behind? I might have an answer and solution for you. It’s helped me and others who have felt like there weren’t enough hours in the day. It could help you.

Why Are You So Behind? 

I worked with a team leader who, along with many of his responsibilities, had the important task of processing customer invoices. The invoicing process was slow and mistake-prone due to “urgent” interruptions that “only he” could handle.

Sometimes You Have to Say No, Not Me, Not Now

When I suggested the team leader stop to ask, “Do I need to do this, and do I need to do this now?” More often than not, he learned that he could work on properly invoicing clients instead of running to the urgent emergency, putting out the fire “only he” could correct. Instead of being behind time, he was getting ahead.

I have observed this urgent vs. important dilemma in every type of organization, department, and position.

For my purposes here I define important tasks as those that help achieve long-term organization and individual goals. And Urgent tasks as “sudden fires” that do little to achieve long-term goals and may interfere with them.

What Can You Do about it?

Answer the following to determine if the task is important or urgent

  • How does this task affect long-term goals?
  • What will happen if this task is not completed?
  • What are the benefits of completing this task?
  • Why am I considering completing this task, and why now?

Before jumping from one task to another, stop and analyze

  • Who should do this?
  • When should it be done?
  • If I complete this task now, what tasks are being interrupted, set aside, or left incomplete?
  • What tasks will help me achieve my goals?
  • What tasks will interfere with my goals?
  • Which tasks should take priority?

The next time you spend two hours in the morning answering emails when you planned to make ten new sales calls (and didn’t), stop and consider if you are working toward your long-term goals or are you operating by the seat of your computer.

When you ask distribution to rush one package to a one-time customer — interfering with important shipments, stop and think, should you have asked distribution before you promised it would be shipped same day (and created an urgent task for distribution)?

When you ask production to interrupt a project to manufacture a Christmas product in July because the customer needs it now, STOP and ask yourself, is this important or urgent? So why are you behind?

How Can I Help You?

I like to help people and organizations, but I have three criteria I consider before taking an assignment – I believe in what the organization stands for, I know I can help, and it looks like fun. If you have any questions, Contact Me. 

Does your business have a management training plan? Businesses and universities use my book, The New Manager’s Workbook, a crash course in effective management, as the basis for their leadership development program. I’m also available to conduct training.

Photo by Wonderlane on Unsplash