Many years ago, perhaps before I really needed it, I read Stephen Covey. I think it’s in his book First Things First that he mentions the difference between urgent tasks and important tasks. He gives the example of the phone ringing – and our task of answering the phone – as an urgent task but the buying of, say, a life insurance policy as an important task. That distinction has remained with me for the last twenty years, even though everything else has been lost.
My present day is inundated with urgent tasks. At any given time, there are three little people talking to me as I try to think about what I’m making for dinner or prepping for school. If I do not sift through the urgent tasks and name them as such, the important ones do not get done. And this is why I am always a little bit envious of my husband’s ability to focus on a given task.It seems like all the children could be screaming, “Daddy!” into his ears and he would still be focused on what he’s doing. I’m not wired to do that; I have to choose – consciously, thoughtfully, every single day, what is to be done. This involves choice, not just for my self but training of the children as well.This involves knowing how to manage interruptions and not feeling unnecessary guilt about things like using electronics. (This is a real thing, trust me! No matter that all our finances, my writing and much of my reading is on electronic devices – apparently, I should be using pen and paper.) It involves dealing with boredom in creative ways.
Fifteen minutes are great for dealing with urgent tasks – meal planning, prepping dinner, even sometimes school, but the more important tasks take longer. I find it best to take a break from the urgent, the daily, and free up time to take care of what is important instead of ignoring it.