Years ago I sat on a technology operating committee, where we routinely used the Eisenhower matrix to prioritize projects (a classic 2-by-2 chart of urgent and important). Of course the projects that were both urgent and important took up more than 100% of the budget, so we never got to focus on anything else.
Lately I’ve been thinking, maybe we’ve mixed up our definitions of urgent and important. If we extend our horizon beyond the current moment, there is nothing more essential than taking a walk, or saying thank you, or eating a healthy breakfast, or playing with a small child, or saying a prayer. Or flossing. But when is there ever time to floss?
These past weeks, I’ve been experimenting by doing one deliberately Non Urgent thing as soon as I wake up, and another before bedtime. One day I made a quick visit to my favorite tree in the park. One day I wrote a thank you note to a dear friend. One day I sat still with my morning coffee and NO PHONE.
Most days, my Non Urgent Things take less than 10 minutes. And sure enough, the early morning tree visit led to clarity in an analytical puzzle. The thank you note led to a big project breakthrough. The quiet coffee led to an important conversation… and who knows what benefits will come in turn from the puzzle, the project, and the conversation? Turns out the non-urgent actions have the highest ROI, one that compounds over and over.
Dear Honeybees, what is the best Non Urgent Thing that’s calling you right now?
There is always time.
* It doesn’t look like Eisenhower originated this saying, but hey, there is a matrix named after it and everything, so he’s usually cited.