Time To Handle Some B.S.

May 10, 2009

It was an unexpectedly busy weekend. Unexpectedly busy is not a good thing on Mother’s Day weekend. Our younger son had two rescheduled rainout soccer games, and our older son was invited on Tuesday to guest play in a soccer tournament that started Saturday. Fortunately, their mother and grandmother are used to soccer rearranging our schedules so we will have a fuller celebration soon. But the suddenly jammed weekend got me thinking about how much B.S. I still have to deal with in my life.

That B.S. is Backlogged Stuff. It consists of a lot of unrelated things that pile up when the schedule gets rearranged. That seems to happen all the time. I start the week with a list of steps to move my business forward, plus the tasks and errands for the family and the kids’ activities. The daily planner looks doable. And then the play starts and the actors all go off script.

It has a lot to do with the quadrants of importance and urgency that Stephen Covey introduced. Tasks can be categorized by the two factors as unimportant and not urgent, important but not urgent, not important but urgent, and import and urgent.

We easily ignore (and usually should ignore) the unimportant and not urgent things most of the time. We unfortunately ignore the important but not urgent. They gnaw at us, but we always think there’s more time to do them later. The unimportant but urgent get far too much attention, as the urgency tricks us into thinking we need to get to them first, when letting them go would have little consequence. The urgent and important tasks are the ones that should be done first, and generally we do them first, but a less important but more urgent task can bump them down the schedule.

For example, a project due in less than a month with defined steps to take every day or a few days of each week is both urgent and important. But a call or e-mail from someone who needs something done by the following day is much more urgent. Most of us will tend to squeeze it into the schedule, meaning delaying the planned tasks or overloading the schedule, to fit in the urgent thing.

Few of us take the time to consider the importance of the new urgent task unless it is obviously no big deal. If it’s for a client who jammed his or her own schedule and now needs help preparing for a presentation, we assume it’s important. While it’s probably important to the client, it’s not likely to be as important to us as our planned project unless we really need the extra income, the client has a lot of long-term value to our business, or the urgent project speaks to our values.

We all wind up setting aside the mundane step on the longer-term project to finish a short-term task. So the long-term projects become longer term. We also pile up a lot of important but not urgent things, which never seem to raise their urgency level high enough to be noticed.

My weekend was slammed and I lost the “extra” time I planned to use to catch up on some of the Backlogged Stuff. I realized the B.S. doesn’t get handled by squeezing it in during unplanned evenings or weekends. That’s not even enough time to catch the new stuff that’s being backlogged, or obviously it would all get finished every week.

This coming week I’m doing the bare minimum for my business and devoting as much time as possible to the B.S. I’m going to try out this idea and see how it works. I won’t focus on training or marketing. I’ll be available for appointments already scheduled and client hours already planned, but I won’t take on any more. The rest of my work week will be dumping as much B.S. as I can. Wish me luck!

May You Know the Joy of Sharing Your Gifts,

Steve Coxsey
Authentic Life Work & Self-Employment Coach (hmmm…)

Comments

2 Responses to “Time To Handle Some B.S.”

  1. Darcy on May 11th, 2009 1:21 pm

    “I realized the B.S. doesn’t get handled by squeezing it in during unplanned evenings or weekends.” That’s the realization that got me started on my current path. If something matters to me, I need to do it when I’m fresh and strong. When I started devoting primo Monday morning time to sewing is when it started to click in that I needed to pursue it more seriously. Hooray for you!

  2. May 21, 2009 : On The Twisting Road on May 21st, 2009 10:54 am

    […] Time To Handle Some B.S. […]

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