What does that term ‘outrun the urgent’ mean, really? It means that the only way to beat being at the mercy of the Urgent is to get ahead of it and prevent it from ever happening in the first place. Because, as we discussed in the previous lesson, if no amount of speed or efficiency or prioritization will help tackle all your emergencies any given day, why not spend the time available today anticipating and derailing all the things that could become urgencies tomorrow?
But how exactly does one go about spending time on things today to free oneself from the grip of the urgent tomorrow?
Everyone understands the relevance of ‘Urgent’ and ‘Important’ in the time management context. There is one more element that needs to be understood and factored in, if one is to decide with conviction what to spend tome on today, to outrun the urgent tomorrow. That element is ‘Future Consequence’.
If Urgency is “how soon does this matter?”, and Importance is “how much does this matter?”, then Future Consequence is “how long is this going to matter?”
Ultra-productive people don’t just make decisions based on the here and now; they make decisions based on a perspective of how it will affect the future.
For example, let’s go back and look at a couple of Kaira’s tasks.
Kaira, as we know, has a vision and a passion for creating visually stunning PowerPoint presentations for clients and stakeholders, an area of work contribution that really matters to her.
Now, let’s say she has two choices on how to spend her time today:
1) Create a detailed presentation and slide design training programme for teams like Marketing, Sales and Projects, who frequently approach her for help, or
2) Spend time creating spectacular presentations for everyone who has approached her for help on PowerPoint presentation decks
If you only factor in the element of Urgency, then Kaira would obviously choose option two and spend time personally attending to PowerPoint SOS requests. But if you include the Future
Consequence element, you’ll probably realize that a great deal of consideration should be given to the task of Kaira creating the training programme. Because even if Kaira manages her time and helps everyone with urgent PowerPoint needs very efficiently, she could do a lot of exemplary work today . . . but there would be a limit. And even if she prioritized her time and took care of the most critical presentations first, then Kaira would be effective . . . but it doesn’t guarantee she’ll be able to provide quality assistance to everyone who needs it. And besides, in reality, Kaira has a lot more deliverables clamoring for her attention than just PowerPoint presentations.
If, however, Kaira invested time into creating the training programme, then she stands to make a significantly larger impact because long term, exponentially more PowerPoint work can receive great treatment through the learning impact she’ll make on her peers – the ones always asking for her help with PowerPoint. Awesome work delivered by Kaira to some stakeholders would be important and it would matter today, but a training program that ensures that everyone across teams is able to create a certain standard of PowerPoint presentations, is consequential and it matters forever.
Which means that as you factor in a calculation for Future Consequence, it begins to offset some of the weight and pull of Urgency. Absent the Future Consequence calculation, the only remaining choice is to work faster and faster and to attempt to switch back and forth between different things. The faster one works, the more elements they can fit in, but the more they fit in, the more the things that get presented to them as urgent. Exactly what happened to Kaira, remember?
But in addition to the Future Consequence calculation, there’s something else ultra-productive people do in order to spend time on things today to give themselves more time tomorrow.
Intelligent Consideration! There are five key considerations that enable the super-productive to do what the rest of humanity seemingly cannot. Multiply time by outrunning the urgent. We’ll discuss this in the next lesson.
Spending time on things today to outrun the urgent tomorrow require the factoring in of ‘Future Consequence’ to our time management outlook, in addition to the traditional ‘Urgent’ and ‘Important’ elements.
Future Consequence concerns itself with “how long is this going to matter?”, where Urgency is all about “how soon does this matter?”, and Importance is “how much does this matter?”
In addition to Future Consequence, there are five key considerations that enable super-productive people achieve all that they do.
We will explore these five considerations in detail in the next lesson.