Life is tough. It’s hard. There’s always curve balls thrown at you from multiple angles: some you knock out of the park and some knock you down. There is a single factor that determines the outcome, regardless of the situation: you. So what’s the secret sauce? How do you stay calm in the midst of chaos, when you’ve got multiple things competing for your attention? The answer is tucked away in a book called First Things Firstby Stephen R. Covey. I received a copy of this book in 2001 by my manager while on my very first internship at Lucent Technologies. In your personal life, at work, in social circles, I’m telling you unequivocally this book is the answer becauseit asks one question: What are the most important things in your life? and forces you to #prioritize your greatest asset, #time.
So let’s get down to it. Grab a piece of paper and draw a square. Now divide it into 4 equal sections. You will fill in those boxes with all the things or tasks that occupy or compete for your time. They could be PTA meetings, Exercise, or preparing for a big presentation at work.
Top Left: Important and Urgent (crises, deadline-driven projects)
Top Right: Important, Not Urgent (preparation, prevention, planning, relationships)
Bottom Left: Urgent, Not Important (interruptions, many pressing matters)
Bottom Right: Not Urgent, Not Important (trivia, time wasters)
I’m serious here… Grab a piece of paper and get started! When you’re done, label the first column urgent, the second column not urgent. Label the first row important and the second row not important. Finally, I want you to do one thing: write a Big Fat Red X on the bottom 2 squares. Why? Because they’re distractions! Avoid them at all costs and notice when others try to force you to respond to or focus on these types of situation. Spend your time on all those items you wrote on the top row and be strategic about it! That’s how you can stay calm in the midst of chaos: focus on what matters to YOU. Your blood pressure will thank you.