Make the Important Urgent

We’ve all got things we want to accomplish — and some of those things are more important than others. Unfortunately, we tend to do the things that are most urgent first, even though they may not be very important to us.

And that’s a shame, because what happens if you’re busy checking your email because you’ve got to respond to someone right away, but you miss out on doing something truly meaningful because you didn’t make it a priority? You can always put out fires, but if you don’t make the things that are important to you the priority, they won’t happen.

Here’s how to make the important things urgent.

Create a clear path.
Choose the goal that’s important to you, and make sure it’s a SMART goal. Map out the steps you’ll need to take to get there, and identify any obstacles that might be in the way. (Then add overcoming those obstacles as additional step(s).)

Create daily or weekly deadlines.
Daily deadline work best for me, but — depending on how quickly you want to accomplish your goal — weekly ones can work fine too. These deadlines can be as simple as “Before I go to bed today, I will have done X.” Of course, it’s most effective to do the important things first, but if you stick with firm deadlines you will get them done. You’ll just be less tired (and likely to accomplish more, faster) if you do them first.

Be accountable.
While some people are very good at holding themselves accountable, for most of us it helps to have a partner. “Having a partner” could mean a variety of things: being part of a mastermind group, emailing a friend or relative with regular reports on your progress, or even just blogging publicly about each daily or weekly step (and whether or not you met it). There’s something about just knowing that you’ll need to report on your progress that makes it much more likely that you’ll actually make that progress.

Finally, just do it.