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Urgency VS Importance

I’m back after one week in Malta where my main activity was focusing on 3 projects: writing the structure of my book, reading Bruno Latour and organizing an event. The schedule I created for myself worked just perfectly: starting every day with a walk until the beach, having a swim in the cool water, back at the hotel, breakfast and then starting to “work”. It amazed me how being away from the daily life AND having a clear focus made me experience the difference between what is important and what is urgent. Even if I had my computer with me, I could easily retain myself from controlling every e-mail coming in.

I guess I’m not alone to behave as if many things are urgent, just because they make us react: e-mails, posts, news, … When we consider them with a calm mind, we realize easily that in fact we confuse what is important with what we perceive as urgent. And by spending a lot of time dealing with what we feel is urgent, we end up neglecting what is important.

Nowadays, it is actually quite easy to create a sense of urgency: it is sufficient to be exposed to many stimuli with an emotional content – excitement, fear, expectation, etc – like e-mails, FB, Instagram and twitter do. Add to that only little physical movement, and have a daily to do list. Here we go: the stress response takes over and we start to give a lot of our time to what we believe is urgent and we forget about what is important to us.
We loose then the overview of the sense of our activities: what is actually important for me ? Why am I doing all this?

How to go out of that, without taking a week off in a beautiful island?

  • At least once per day, sit quietly and in silence for 5 minutes while you are enjoying a tea or a coffee
  • Train physically: walk 30 min every day.
  • Eat without having your smartphone on the table or other screens in front of you. Enjoy your food and / or the people with you.

Those 3 practices will help you to train a state of little – or even no – excitement in your mind. When you feel this calmness, start to reflect on “ what is actually important for me?” and “do I dedicate enough time to what is important for me?”.

The last recommendation will maybe surprise you 🙂 Give time to what “urgent” is. This part of us also needs our attention. Give to it some time every day, 1-2 hours but not more. When the sense of urgency receives enough time it doesn’t need to take over what is important!

Picture of Michelle Sabatini

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