What's Urgent Vs. What's Important

Aug 20, 2018

Lo urgente no deja tiempo para lo importante

Sometimes another language says it best. In Spanish, there is a saying that has no exact equivalent in English: Lo urgente no deja tiempo para lo importante. A possible translation would be "The urgent things leave no time for the important things". How often have I thought that as I go through my daily to-do list?

Email is one area where the urgent clashes with the important. I work in an environment where FYI emails are simply baffling. What am I supposed to do with the attachment? Read all 60 pages? File it away for future reference? Or is this a passive-aggressive type email that will come to haunt me later in the 'you should have done this because we sent you an email' sense?

Then there is the false urgency email with a request for something to be done immediately that could easily wait a day. The frustrating thing about all these emails is that they take time from the truly important; in my case, research and teaching. At one point, I kept track of how much time work-related emails took up of my day, and I realized that it was eating up about three hours per day. In my fantasy, NIU makes the decision to go email free for a week so that we could all refocus on truly important projects. I suspect that all our productivity would go through the roof!

I'm Frances Jaeger, and this is my perspective.