Urgency vs. Importance: A Guide to Prioritizing Decisions
Handle decisions that cannot be reversed yet have the most impact
The decisions we spend the most time on are rarely the most important ones. Not all decisions need the same process. Sometimes, trying to impose the same process on all decisions leads to difficulty identifying which ones are most important, bogging us down and stressing us out.
I remember once struggling at the intelligence agency shortly after I received a promotion. I was being asked to make too many decisions. I had no way to sort through them to figure out which ones mattered, and which ones were inconsequential.
The situation built slowly over a period of weeks. My employees were scared to make decisions because their previous boss had hung them out to dry when things went wrong. My boss, a political high flyer, also liked to delegate down the riskiest decisions. As a result, I had more decisions to make than capacity to make them. I was working longer and longer to keep up with the volume of decisions. Worse, I followed the same process for all of them. I was focusing on the most urgent decisions as the cost of the most important decisions.
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