The issues created by bundling together identification and action are amplified by the way the Tyranny of the Urgent comes into play. This requires that we just get things done, even if they are below our pay grade and don’t belong in our day. We do them because when they come up they are urgent and need to get done. We’re always too busy when they come up to delegate them, and the quickest way to get them out of the way is just to do them ourselves.
We do them because we’re too busy to focus on taking a more strategic approach and eliminating them. Once the task is done, the urgency disappears…along with any coherent thought of eliminating it before the next time it crops up. Then, the next time it comes up screaming for attention the cycle repeats itself. Unless proactive steps are taken to find a solution to delegate it elsewhere, the same thing will happen again and again as it becomes urgent, and you will find yourself doing it again and again instead of getting rid of it.
That’s why we are working below our pay grade. It not because the activities require our expertise, and not because there isn't anybody else who could do them. It is because the combination of the Tyranny of the Urgent and lack of planning means that there is nobody else primed, trained and ready to take care of them at the time they need to be done.
This urgency is compounded by the fact that we are bundling together the identification of the things that should be eliminated and the process of figuring out how to actually do it. When this bundling is combined with the Tyranny of the Urgent, the whole process is frequently derailed because it is too overwhelming..…..but it doesn't have to be that way.
What we need to do is to be able to identify these tasks at the time we do them, and do it in such a way that we are prompted to think about them when they aren't urgent. We need to take a step back and identify them - write them down so that we can look at them in the cold light of day when they aren't clamoring for our attention, when urgency isn't driving the agenda, and figure how to eliminate them then.
The solution is to write them down at the time when they become urgent and that brings us to the To Don’t List.