Photo by Rod Long
How’s your urgent list going? Getting longer or starting to glow with an ominous neon highlight?
As the clock ticks down for the last few weeks of this year, it’s easy for the ‘urgent’ stuff to cloud what’s important. Urgent by itself is not necessarily a reason for something to be at the front of your queue.
A little sorting might be necessary and the first place to start is by filtering for ‘important’. All things being equal, I usually find that stuff to do with people is likely to be important – jobs, staffing schedules, family traumas, teacher performance management . . . These things matter and may also be urgent. If so, straight to the top of the list.
The next thing to consider is who labelled a particular thing urgent? If it wasn’t you, then potentially it doesn’t even need to be on your list. Later in Term 4, it’s fairly common for someone else who is feeling time pressure, to suggest something on their own list should be urgent for you too. This can be a slippery slope of responsibility shifting and is where the ability to politely, yet firmly say ‘no’, is a vital principal skill.
But perhaps the most important thing to remember is that what is ‘urgent’, by definition, will change quickly. An item that is genuinely urgent can’t stay on your to do list for long, otherwise it wasn’t.
In 2020, thinking about and planning for Covid was urgent. However, its position on all our lists changed a long time ago. Likewise, having a cohesive agenda and plan for the first staff setup day this year was urgent. But, if on the morning of that same day, one of your own whanau became very unwell, the order of urgency is rearranged.
Urgency is relative and time limited. So as the Term races by, and you find yourself feeling ever more pressure to get ‘urgent’ things done, just step back a fraction, pause, and give yourself permission to rearrange what gets your attention. A lot of what is creating mental workload is almost certainly neither important or urgent – it just feels like it is.