The moment a child finds balance on their own two feet the dauntlessness to transform those first stumbling steps into a full blown sprint begins. They are always in a rush. Everything is a crucial matter. Getting from point A to point B is a goal that can’t be accomplished fast enough. Shoveling snacks down their gullet is top priority and must be completed in record time. Play time is to be had and that toy must be acquired now. Children hold the key to urgency and multitasking. There’s something to be said about the efficiency of a toddler digging in the sandbox, holding a sucker, and filling their pants simultaneously. It’s almost as if they are super human and have twenty sticky fingers.
Somewhere along the way we learn that not everything has to happen at every whim. We must complete homework before going out to play. Do chores before playing video games. As we grow we learn that if everything is important, then nothing is important.
The fact though, is that everything is important. Maybe not to you, but to the customer waiting for a call back, the vehicle owner who hasn’t had their car in three weeks, and the co-workers waiting for you to get your portion of the project completed, it’s all very important. On top of the 9-5 responsibilities, kids need to get school, the house needs to be cleaned, and boy do the doggie deposits need to be picked up in the yard. Squeeze in a little grocery shopping and you have filled your five pound bag with fifty pounds of to-do’s.
Once overwhelmed, it’s easy to scrap it all, or maybe do the bare minimum. Send an email instead of making a call, release the vehicle without a final test drive, put off the project for another week. Pick up just enough poo that you can get to the gate without stepping in a land mine, forget grocery shopping and pick up a sack of grease on the way home.
The secret lies within prioritization. Just because something isn’t slapping you in the face calling for immediate attention doesn’t make it any less important.
Our lives have transformed with the perks of same day delivery, instant gratification (or despair) from “likes”, or the lack thereof, and streaming entertainment. We expect to get it, and get it now. As customers, we hate to wait. Waiting on hold, waiting in line, waiting for a call back.
Your customers hate waiting on you.
It is time to put the urgency we expect back into the services we provide, but doing it smarter and with purpose.
We can reinstitute urgency while prioritizing important tasks by asking the following questions:
What is the best method to tackle this to-do?
Will this messaging be better received face to face or voice to voice, rather than in an email? By having a conversation you are likely to reduce the chances a follow up communication will be necessary by addressing any questions or concerns on the spot.
Can I complete this responsibility while multitasking, or does it require my complete attention?
By killing two birds with one stone you open your day up to get more done in less time.
How can I make the biggest impact?
Grease the squeaky wheel right away before it becomes an issue that will take up more of your time or the time of others. If the customer is on the phone, take the call. If you can de-escalate or resolve the matter in a moment, do it now.
Is this really a “right now” problem?
The four cars with parts on hand that are due to deliver by the end of the week are more important than the restoration project sitting in the back of the shop that isn’t expected to be complete ‘til Fall. While the fun project may be more appealing, focus on what has to get done, not what you’d rather do, or what is easier.
Who does this affect if I don’t do it ASAP?
If not doing something right now doesn’t affect anyone or anything, it is not a priority. It may still need to get done, but without a deadline or high impact, it can sit on the shelf and simmer for a bit. Write reminders, and schedule time to complete it so it doesn’t get forgotten but it is not urgent and should not be treated as such.
In a utopian world where we all had nine hands, four mouths, six eyes, could move at the speed of light, and didn’t need to eat or sleep to survive, we would have the time to get it all done without sacrificing.
If they can bring the wooly mammoth back, who knows how many appendages you may have in the future.
Sci-fi/Sci-fact. Be careful what you wish for.
Until then, prioritize, use good time management skills, and evaluate your actions.