Dave Pollard at How to Save the World has a great post on how he actually stopped doing the unimportant urgent tasks. After initially seeing the title of his article, I reckoned Dave had been poppin’ some crazy pills. But once you read his post, you’ll see that Dave is far from being a passenger on the crazy train. In fact, he might actually be on to something.
Think about how many times you’ve flipped on your computer, cranked up the Cher and gotten pumped about the prospect of dominating your to-do list. Ok, maybe that’s just me (minus the Cher), but who hasn’t wanted to hammer out a to-do list, only to have your hopes shattered by 13 emails that demand your attention RIGHT NOW. We’ve all been around that track.
Well, Dave got sick of that track, and now he’s figured out that his life is a whole lot better since he started punting the “urgent” things. It’s enabled him to become a better leader within his community, mainly because he’s learned how to delegate.
Dave also gives 3 ways to stop doing the unimportant urgent tasks, and one of them really caught my eye.
Lower others’ expectations: Essentially you need to train other people not to give you urgent unimportant tasks, and, when they do, not to expect you to do them. My disease gave me an easy excuse to do this, but I’ve been amazed how quickly people catch on to your becoming ‘unreliable’ at doing unimportant tasks and lowering their expectations of you without animosity or other serious consequences. It’s easier to get out of non-essential meetings than you might think (and you might even be able to persuade your company to make all meeting attendance optional).
I figured he would have had a little more resistance than that.
Getting Things Done (GTD): Just Say No to Urgent Unimportant Tasks