When overwhelmed by the important but not urgent things

You have been reading the personal finance articles for years now. Every now and then you think ‘this is worthy trying’. You then get it on your ‘to do list’. You then realise that the ‘to do list’ just overwhelms you. You then say “I will do it tomorrow.” This tomorrow never comes. I do it all the time myself. Then you end up having a list of all the ‘important but not urgent’ tasks piled up. At this point, remember that procrastination is a big enemy of financial progress.

How do you get around it? How can you make yourself do all of the “important but not urgent” things you need to get done in your life, when it’s so easy to put them off and just kick back?

A few tips. First, do not overwhelm yourself with a to-do list. If you sat down and made a list of all of the “important but not urgent” things that you need to do in your financial life, you would have a monstrous list.

Give it a try right now in your head for the next minute. Just go through your life and think of all of the stuff that you would like to get done—that is important to get done—but it is not urgent. The finance books and articles you would like to read. The financial tasks you ought to take care of. The people you should get in touch with. The list will be painfully huge, and it will probably seem overwhelming.

Instead, make a short list each day. Break it down. I personally tackle two or three items on that list every day. Which ones? If they are all important and not urgent, it doesn’t matter—I just tackle whatever is at the top of the list. Sometimes, though, one item or another does take precedence—it is something that needs to be done regularly.

When that daily list is finished, I can kick back without guilt. So, each day I have two or three “important but not urgent” tasks that I should get done—an amount that is not overwhelming.

Once they are done, I’m done. Sure, I have other “important but not urgent” tasks I should get to, but that is what future days are for. I have taken care of what I have assigned myself today (which isn’t overwhelming), so I can kick back and play with my children without feeling I am letting something down. I know it is all in place.

If it is a big task, I break it down into little pieces. Big tasks can easily put you off, so I break them down. I do not have a task like “fix my relationship with business counterpart X,” I instead do something like “write person X an email” or “give person X a phone call.” Usually, the end of such a task is just one part of a bigger accomplishment, which needs to be followed through to the end.

I keep a notepad and pen with me so I do not forget those “important but not urgent” tasks when they come to me. “Important but not urgent” tasks pop into my head all the time. I just keep a notepad with me to jot them down as they come to mind. Once a day or so, I go through the things in my notepad and make sure they are handled.

You can be assured that if I jot something down, then I will not forget it and will surely follow it through to the end.  I don’t start anything I cannot see to the end. Sometimes, I will just do those things immediately. Other times, I will just toss it up on my calendar, adding another thing that needs to get done.

Always remember that procrastination is the mortal enemy of all of the “important but not urgent” things in your life, and often it is those things that separate the people who get things done and succeed from those who fall behind.

That said, my motto remains ‘deal with the most important, urgent and deadlined assignments.’

Blessed day to you and yours as you plan on not allowing the “Important but not urgent” tasks to overwhelm you or fall through.  

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