~by Haley Lynn Gray~

In life, and in work there are always too many things that need to be done.  It can be difficult to figure out whether an issue is important or urgent.  Trying to figure out the difference can be hard, especially when work is coming at you at a hundred miles an hour.  People are screaming for things to get done.  There’s a lot of noise, and the important things don’t always stand out clearly from the merely urgent.

The trick is figuring out which things really have to happen, when the mountain of tasks is overwhelming, and which things may just be urgent, but which aren’t really important.  For instance- it may be urgent to send your boss status.  But, it’s really important to respond to a client who needs attention.  Which one do you take care of?  Well, what I’d do is let my boss know that my status is going to be late, after dealing with a client.  Most managers really want employees who are able to make good decisions, and who are willing to exercise that skill.  That means, figuring out what is important and what is urgent.

Where it gets really tricky is when you have something really important that you should be working on, but the urgent things keep popping in, requiring attention.  One case in point is that you need to put together the project plan for the next release, but there are so many bugs popping up that have to be touched by you and allocated to someone else.  The bugs that are popping up are all urgent, but if you don’t get the project plan out, the next release will be delayed.

In situations like this, it’s important to work with your management to determine proper priorities.  Obviously, you can’t work on multiple things at exactly the same point in time, so decisions have to be made about which activity is actually of higher value to the business.  It may be that in the case of bugs, they get delegated to someone else, allowing you time to do the project plan.  If you don’t raise awareness that this is happening, and communicate, then there is risk to the business.

Note that you have to be able to decide day-to-day on smaller issues, but larger issues really need to be brought up to management.  You’ll find yourself sorely burned for failing to communicate the risks and problems correctly, if you just ignore them.

It is key to be able to identify urgent and important.

Meet the Author: Haley Lynn Gray

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Haley helps female entrepreneurs create a strategy plan for their businesses – so they can make enough money to spend quality time with their family, pay for their children’s dance lessons, pay bills – and not worry about where the next client is coming from.

Haley is a serial entrepreneur and founder of Leadership Girl. She helps other entrepreneurs build their businesses by sharing the benefits of her business education and experience through Business Coaching.

Whether you want to get a new business off the ground or expand an existing business, Haley can assist you.


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