How to Accomplish More of What’s Important

Learn to manage your energy and go after your goals

There’s so much to do that I can’t focus on what really matters.

As a nurse and leader, it feels like a million requests are coming at you from all directions.

It’s way too easy to slide into permanent fire drill mode. You spend so much time dealing with urgent tasks and quasi-emergencies that it keeps you from tackling the actual important things that will help move your organization and team forward.

When the overwhelm and anxiety creep in, you need to refocus, center yourself and review your priorities. If you find yourself frequently reverting to reaction mode, it’s time to take a breath and make a new plan.

A lot of clients ask for my help because they have an idea or view of what they want to achieve long-term, but they just aren’t making progress. No matter how many lists or renewed commitments they make, every day brings more chaos and urgencies that drain their energy. The important tasks that need doing in order to reach their personal, team or organization’s goals get pushed off until later. And “later” seems to always get filled with more fire drills.

There’s even a great conceptual way to view this issue called the Eisenhower Matrix, also known as Eisenhower’s Urgent/Important Principle. It was invented by President Dwight D. Eisenhower as a way to sort out which daily tasks to focus on. His quote on the subject is well known, “What is important is seldom urgent and what is urgent is seldom important.”

So how do we sort it all out? In simplified terms, the process looks like this:

  1. Do first… this is where you list your important tasks that need to be done today in order for life and work to operate properly.

  2. Schedule… important but less urgent tasks should be scheduled into your calendar, but make sure you block out time to really work on them!

  3. Delegate… if it’s urgent but less important and can be delegated, then delegate wherever and whenever possible.

  4. Don’t do… constantly evaluate - if it’s not urgent or important, does it need to be done at all?

Try not to do random tasks just because they’re less time-consuming or easier. Many times we put off the important things we need to accomplish because they take more brain power or time, but this doesn’t help in the long run.

When you do schedule in work time for your long-term projects, whether they’re personal or organization-related, know that these tasks often take longer than we picture in our heads. Be gentle with yourself and allow enough time to really dive in and do solid work.

Feeling rushed by artificial deadlines of urgency keeps you distracted and unfocused. Overcome that by claiming time on your schedule for the work YOU know is important. Remember that it’s not only about what you can get done, but also about what you can completely take off your plate. Start taking a hard line on things that don’t need to be done, and you’ll open up even more time and energy.

Would you like more actionable tips on regaining your focus on what matters? I’d love to meet with you one to one and learn about your story.

Reach out any time. You can click here to send me a direct message, or read more on my site at

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