How to Meet Commitments Using 'Urgency' and 'Importance'

Just because something's important doesn't mean you should do it.

Stever Robbins
4-minute read
Episode #505

Today, we’re going to be discussing self-motivation. I had a horrible, terrible, dramatic, soul-shattering incident recently. Names have been changed to protect the innocent. The not-so-innocent will enjoy no such protections.

A company approached me in January to write some custom articles and blog posts. The money was good, I believed in the company’s products, and my calendar was free. If you got an offer that worked in terms of time, money, and your belief in the product, would you take it? Of course!

Working alone, things happen as fast as they can. It seemed reasonable that the articles would only take a day or two to get into final form. But…

Other People Work at Different Rates

The people on the other end of the deal were part of a large corporation. They had other stakeholders, they were dealing with other authors, there were contracts to be signed, and W9s to fill out…by the time everything was confirmed and we were ready to move forward, it was March.

At this point, my schedule had filled up. I was running a test of my Get-it-Done Groups, and was up to my eyeballs helping my cohort become amazingly productive.

The articles really just slipped out of mind. I wrote and submitted them in my spare time. The company would write about needing editorial changes, or getting custom tracking links to measure clickthroughs, and I’d add to my to-do list. But I wouldn’t actually get to it until there was a break in the Get-it-Done Group. By the time the articles got submitted and tracked, it was four months from the initial conversations.

This is not something to be proud of. I felt awful. I beat myself up. And I did a post-mortem to understand why things had taken so long. After all, these articles were a business obligation. It’s important to fulfill business obligations, right?

Importance is Relative

YES!…no…well, sort of. The articles were important, yes. The pay for the articles was reasonable, given that I originally had no paying work booked in January. But once things got busy, the money for the articles suddenly wasn’t very consequential. Sure, they were more important than unused time. But they were much less important than Get-it-Done Groups, which I hope to build into a substantial business. 

Then we started having the basement office gutted and reconstructed from a burst pipe, and that became most important of all—because with no office, everything suffered. The importance of the articles changed as circumstances changed.

What about urgent? There were people waiting for the drafts. Didn’t that make it urgent?

Urgent is Relative

Sort of. As an entrepreneur and writer, I’ll usually turn something around quite rapidly and be done with the editorial process in a couple of back-and-forths, in a short amount of calendar time. But the pacing of corporate interactions, with the many people who needed to be involved, was slow enough that the momentum just wasn’t there. If the agency took several days to get feedback on my changes, the more rapid cycles of the Get-it-Done Groups and the Get-it-Done Guy podcast took precedence.

The articles were neither as important nor as urgent as anything else on the agenda. And so…they would drop out of attention, and ultimately took weeks longer than they should have. Don’t be the me that I was then, when I was being a me-then that the me-now isn’t proud to have been then. Instead, be Batman. And here’s how.

Filter Commitments Before Taking Them


About the Author

Stever Robbins

Stever Robbins was the host of the podcast Get-it-Done Guy from 2007 to 2019. He is a graduate of W. Edward Deming’s Total Quality Management training program and a Certified Master Trainer Elite of NLP. He holds an MBA from the Harvard Business School and a BS in Computer Sciences from MIT.