Start doing the non-urgent


Stop talking, start doing! Even if doing, is lying in the grass. This short blog post is a call to action. It has been triggered by a book that I picked up in Dover on my way to Paris last week. Here is my advice: pause your usual day to day stuff, watch, listen, think, and then start doing something that matters very much to you.

We all have different characters, strengths, and weaknesses, but also have a lot in common.  I have noticed in myself and others that if something is not seen as urgent, we are likely to neglect it even if it is something that we care a lot about, or that is important. Instead, we get busy with seemingly urgent tasks, our regular activities or escape to mindless entertainment. I first became aware of this pattern through the work of Steven Covey and his time management matrix. If we look at our busyness, we can categorise all activities according to how urgent and important they are; where ‘urgent’ tasks are time-sensitive and ‘important’ are things that carry lasting value.

time management matrix

Most of the time we spend in Quadrant 1 and 2, and when we are tired or fed up dealing with urgent stuff, we retreat in quadrant 4. The advice given by Covey is to spend as much time as possible in Quadrant 2. Notice that Quadrant 2 also includes recreation. Resting and doing activities that recharge our batteries are rarely seen as urgent, but they are vital. Similarly, planning and working on key relationships are often the first things drop when things get tough or hectic.

 “I have so much to accomplish today that I must meditate for two hours instead of one.” Mahatma Gandhi

When you are very busy and are under a lot of pressure, it makes sense to take time out to work on the non-urgent stuff that  matters most. Equally, when you notice that you are drifting or busying yourself with the small things, it is valuable to identify a non-urgent task that would have the most impact in medium or long term and act upon it.

At the moment, for me, the most important thing I can do is to sleep.

Until tomorrow,


One sentence journal – day 5:
“It is so satisfying to tidy a messy shed – especially when one has wanted to do it for nine months!.”

This blog is part of a renewed 42-day writing challenge inspired by Leo Babauta’s Zen Habits Book.
Photo: Kyle Ryan