There was one particular action that caught my attention this week and made my jaw drop. A fire truck was barreling down the street with lights flashing and siren blaring. As it approached, a man right in front of me stepped up to the corner, looked directly at the oncoming fire truck and proceeded to cross the street right in front of its path. He started to hustle about half way through the street to make sure he got to the other side before it reached him. As I stared in amazement and he reached the other side safely, all I could think was – do you really need to do that right now? Its hard to imagine that there was something so important that he needed those 30 to 60 extra seconds that it would take for the truck to pass.
In business there is a concept of urgent vs. important. It is typically shown as a grid with urgent on one axis and important on the other axis. Many times people spend time on items that are urgent, but have low importance. The case of the fellow crossing in front of the fire truck is an example of this – he felt urgency in crossing the street now, but it is hard to imagine that it was really important to do so in that moment. Things like email, meetings and interruptions (phone or in person), can divert your attention from truly important items. How are you creating space in your day to focus on the important?