Urgent Is The New Black

 In Living Our Best Life

Some days I feel more like a firefighter than an attorney. The phone rings off the hook. There is a constant barrage of emails. Letters to read and write. A stack of files that have to be reviewed. My day is filled with fires that must be put out.

A while ago Jan, my wife, asked me “What did you do today?” I looked at her and said “I don’t know. I worked hard. I know I got a lot done. I took care of all the problems.” It’s a strange experience to not be able to answer a really basic question when my day was filled with little down time.

Being busy, putting out fires and taking care of business are all important. But if I have to take care of what is urgent before I can get to what is important then I am in trouble. There will always be urgent matters to take care of whether it is at work or at home. Urgent is the squeaky wheel.

Last year Jan read to me out of a book called the War of Art by Steven Pressfield. He talks about the battle between what is urgent and important. If we wait for the urgent matters to be taken care of we may never get to what is important . If we want to be advancing our personal evolvement, as well as our practice of law, then we need to do the important.

This simple designation of what is urgent and important helped me to reframe how I see my day in terms of taking care of my evolvement. It takes surprisingly little time and the feeling that it brings me is ten times more rewarding.

Give it a try. Pick out two or three actions that advance your long term personal goals each day and see not only how easy it is, but how it makes you feel.

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Showing 4 comments
  • paul heatherman

    so important, thanks!

  • Juli Upton

    It always makes me cringe when I encounter someone brilliant, dedicated, intensely motivated, and without any other life than the law. I have met several of these folks during my 28 years of practice including defense attorneys, plaintiffs’ attorneys, Judges, and a handful of social workers and psychiatrists. My office is busy. Both phones rarely stop ringing. Still – that moment when I come through the door of home and the little ones call: “Mom’s home!” are the best part of the day. Long ago, when my teenagers were younger, I always asked them at bedtime: “What was the best part of your day?”. Sometimes, you might be surprised at the answers.

    My suggestion is to find something outside the law that gives you gratification. I am old enough to know most of my shortcomings – I sleep less hours; I am prolific in my varied endeavors and sometimes become too intense; I am, on occasion, impatient about “getting to the point”. I corresponded this weekend with the owner of a chick farm in Corvallis, Oregon regarding an interview for a feature article on the Senior newspaper I developed – Oregon Senior News – and which, barely into five months old, is up to 7,500 copies and over 1650 visitors to the new website in the last 30 days. Learning about new things, outside of the law, is important and, at least I like to think, rounds us out a bit. Juli

  • Jim Dwyer

    It’s easy to become over focused in anything that we do under the belief that it makes us better- it can, but only to a point. Maintaining balance in life is one of the hardest things we can do. I agree wholeheartedly that having diverse interests brings much out from in us that is waiting patiently to be discovered.

  • Ronn Elzinga

    Loved the title, Jim. Ah, the tyranny of the urgent. I am often utterly and completely controlled by it. Thanks for the post.

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