We each have activities we (or others) feel are important in a given day and that therefore merit our energy and attention. And yet, ultimately, “important” is simply a value judgement.

The deeper question is perhaps how do you know these are important for you? And today?

In essence, what does your decision-making framework look like?

For example:

  • What values come into play?
  • What beliefs underpin it?
  • Who gets a say? Meaning, who are these activities important for?
  • And, most critically, what is the overall vision?

Tightly connected with importance is urgency. In fact, the distinction between what is urgent and what is important goes to the heart of any discussion on time and productivity. In practice, how do you distinguish?

For me, the key to all this is that overriding vision of how we want to live and how all our activities knit together. It can therefore be helpful to spend some time each day reflecting on that vision, perhaps breaking down the various roles you play in life and at work and getting a sense for what is important in each. How do you arbitrate between them? This can give a sense for whether what you are going today actually matters when considered from a larger timeframe.

Questions in the Image:

  • How do I know what is important today?
  • What then is important today?
  • What is urgent today?

Want to Read More Around This Topic?

  • If you would like to explore this theme further, Episode 8 of my Time Academy Podcast: Urgent vs. Important may offer some insights.
  • Also, if you are looking for a time system that allows you to structure your day such that you get to accomplish what you want and don’t get lost in long to do lists or other people’s priorities, this post may be helpful: Find a Time System That Works For You.

Nurturing Curiosity – Daily Practice: This is part of the Nurturing Curiosity series of tools, insights and questions designed to help nurture curiosity as part of our daily practice. In point of fact, every interaction we have is an opportunity to question what we are observing and how we and others are seeing the world. Also remember that questions come in many forms throughout our day – an article shared by a friend raises questions as to whether I am brave enough to fully live into my convictions. What values underpin my beliefs? Where did these values come from? What price am I willing to pay for them? Where are my red lines?

About Tom O’Leary

My mission is to help others think differently – meaning more broadly and deeply – and thereby make better decisions. The key to thinking differently lies in our curiosity.

The more we question, the more possible answers we uncover, and the more we expand what we thought possible. Life has taught me that possibility lies not so much in seeking answers but in learning to ask better questions – the ones that help prioritise what is truly essential.

And yet, in a culture obsessed with efficiency and productivity, the paradox is that much energy and resources are wasted by a bias towards action over contemplation. If you are answering the wrong question, it doesn’t matter how ‘hard’ you work, you are still answering the wrong question.

That is why I am a big advocate of nurturing curiosity and innovative thinking at all ages, particularly amongst leaders because of the impact they have on us all. In my vision, leaders aren’t boxed in by traditional thinking or established playbooks. They are curious, open to fresh ideas and diverse perspectives, fostering a culture of exploration and learning.

How Might Tom Help?

  1. My first invitation is to take maximum advantage of the free content on this site.
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