Most of us run around all day taking care of urgent things like handling rush orders and putting out fires because we’re constantly under the gun. This leaves little or no time for the important things that really matter, like planning, exercise, furthering your education, pursuing a big dream, or spending quality time with your spouse, children or closest friends. This phenomenon is often called the tyranny of the urgent.

Urgent things are seldom important and important things are seldom urgent

The reason we don’t set aside time for these important things is because they aren’t urgent. However, deliberately setting aside uninterrupted blocks of free time every day to work on important things that aren’t urgent defuses this “time bomb” and leaves you feeling less scattered.

So where are you supposed to find this extra block of time? The answer is simple. You steal it from activities (like TV watching or playing video games or reading junk mail) that are neither urgent nor important. For example, you could turn off the TV at 9.00 pm, go to bed earlier, get up earlier and there’s your free block of time. Use this time to plan your day, exercise or work on a big project with a long term pay-off.

Time pressure is a major cause of stress

Time pressure is a major cause of stress. Many stressful events wouldn’t be stressful if it weren’t for time pressure. By setting aside uninterrupted blocks of free time each day, you will begin to control time rather than having time control you, and by so doing, you’ll eliminate an extraordinary amount of stress.

Ways to reduce time pressure

  1. Plan your day
    Don’t underestimate the time saved by planning. Allow at least 15 minutes daily just for planning.
  2. Think long term
    Spend at least an hour every day working on something important that has long-term benefits (like exercising, educating yourself or improving your marketable skills).
  3. Don’t be a slave to the urgent things
    Important things are seldom urgent and urgent things are seldom important.
  4. Allow extra time between meetings and errands.
    These chores always take longer than you think
  5. Make a short list
    Make a list of the six most important things you need to do every day. Keeping it short will force you to prioritize.