Dear friends of SoHo,
It has been a while; too long in fact. Since our last post, several seasons have turned, LOST was, well, lost, and a new decade has begun. And as many of you know, there have been many changes at SoHo; we have added some fresh faces as well as some babies to our family!
But, we’re back, and planning to be back on a more consistent basis. I’m sure our multitude of religious readers and company stalwarts have been wondering where we've been? Well, it’s simple. 2009 was a challenging year for SoHo, as it was for many others. We saw a reduction in business, and along with a reduction in business, an unfortunate reduction in staff. For the team it meant longer, harder hours to produce quality work for our clients. And, for me and Jeff, the founders of the company, it meant more time engaged in the day-to-day of the company, and less time on corporate communications and PR. As Jeff likes to say, we spent way too much time “Working for the business, instead of working ON the business.”
This is a key thought to keep in mind for any entrepreneurs out there. Growth can only really happen when you are able to take the time to think about your business, improve its systems, and proactively identify new opportunities and implement great ideas.
It is usually after a spell of these harried times that I remind myself of the URGENT/IMPORTANT quadrants of work, and figure out if my time is being invested wisely. For those of you who haven’t heard about the URGENT/IMPORTANT quadrants, it is not a seedy neighborhood on the lower east side. What it is, is a simple tool you can use to easily prioritize your professional work tasks:
As I’ve take the liberty to color code, you can see that the red, Not Important, tasks are the ones to be wary of.
As you go through your mental checklist of tasks, those that fit into the lower left quadrant and the upper right quadrant should be pretty obvious.
· Submitting Invoices (urgent/important)
· Depositing Checks (urgent/important)
· Deciding the color palate for my next office, which I don’t have yet, or know where it might be (not urgent/not important)
· Picking a theme song for the company picnic, which doesn’t exist (not urgent/not important)
As you might surmise, you will always be focusing on the URGENT AND IMPORTANT things first in life, and are likely not doing anything that is not urgent, and not important. See chart below :-)
The bigger challenge occurs once we get away from those two categories. One can easily confuse urgency and importance. Clients, vendors and associates often need things immediately, and these “last minute” demands can easily overwhelm our ability even to attempt to categorize each task’s importance. Additionally, in some cases, technology has really ‘enhanced’ the urgency of things to the point of dominating over importance. iPhones, Blackberrys, PDAs and other ubiquitous media technology have so come to dominate our daily lives that time for rest and reflection have become as endangered as political moderates. Ask yourself how many emails you respond to immediately that either don’t require an immediate response, or any response at all. We all do it, because for some reason email makes EVERYTHING feel urgent..
As Admiral Ackbar tells us, getting caught in the world of URGENT/NOT IMPORTANT is a TRAP, and often keeps us from getting to the tasks that are truly important, but not urgent.
The lower right quadrant is where the AHA moments reside. It is in this quadrant that we are able to do critical thinking, and get to the work that is truly the key to growth and success. It is where light bulbs go off, relationships are built, and frankly, where the FUN is had.
Urgency creates stress, and stress, over time, can wear you out, and make even fun things hard. So I’ll sign off on this latest (if somewhat delinquent) missive and see if I can focus on the not-so-urgent but critical things I need to do if I, and the admiral, want to defeat the evil empire. Things like writing this blog.