Pulled In 10 Different Directions At Once?
Is the “urgent” taking over your life? I was just reading about the Tyranny of the Urgent, a great piece on the difference between the urgent and the important on Simplemom.com. I was reminded of an “ah-ha” moment I had in business school when I learned what the phrase management by exception meant.
It means putting out fires takes precedence over everything, to the detriment of your organized to-do list. It means you become a crazy, anxiety ridden stress ball. It means you don’t ever feel like you’ve accomplished anything, just that you’ve managed to not lose it.
Effective management is making a plan and sticking to it. It’s prioritizing. Sure, you have to put out the fires: answer the phone, open e-mail, avert disasters or deal with them. But let it run your day? Not effective.
Sound like motherhood?
All kidding aside, motherhood can quickly spin out of control if you forget the difference between urgent and important, between fires and plans.
Urgent is an exploding diaper, kissing a bobo after your toddler takes a spill, cleaning off the kitchen counters so you can have room to cook dinner.
Important is playing ring around the rosie with your toddler, making time for friends (old AND new), having a quiet dinner with your spouse.
Sometimes it’s difficult to tell the difference. But they are different. And, as my favorite professor used to say, “that’s a difference that makes a difference.”
And make no mistake, running a household takes very savvy management skills. For me, I crave a sense of peace in my day and every now and then I get it. Mostly it comes when I’ve been the captain of my ship, steering us all clear of obstacles and moving us forward. When I can stick to my plan.
When I’m bouncing from fire to fire, by the end of my day I’m cooked - no energy for me or my family. That doesn’t make me very happy…and when mama ain’t happy ain’t nobody happy!
So, today, after reading about urgent and important tasks, I’m inspired to prioritize. To carve out time each day (maybe I should commit to a week first?) to do something truly important. Time for ring around the rosie, anyone?
photo credit: Ana Santos