Slave to the Immediate

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A wise man once said, “If you don’t keep your eye on the ultimate, you become slave to the immediate.”


Any person’s job can be very stressful with all the daily happenings competing for your attention.  A person can be have their mind set on accomplishing a handful of productive tasks when they wake up and by the time they get to the office everything has changed.


First, an urgent phone call on line two, then John wants to talk about an account, next Bob is upset at Sally, ensuing an unexpected email needs to be answered, then a quick youtube video, then a couple of your friends picture that were posted desperately need to be “liked”, and before you realize it the entire day has been wasted.


What is the saddest is you did what seems like a lot, but nothing was accomplished.  So what is a person to do?  You must keep your eyes set on the ultimate.  First and foremost know what your top priorities are, the things that if accomplished would move the pegs the most.  As Brian Tracy would say, “you must eat the bullfrog first”.


Second you must see everything else as a distraction that CAN be handled after you finish your top priorities (no exceptions).  If the phone rings, don’t answer it (unless your job is to answer phones of course).  If you get a text, don’t respond until it is a convenient time for YOU.  Jim Rohn recommends that you push all problem calls to the afternoon, as he called it “problems after 3pm”.  Sometimes the problems seemed to work themselves out by the time he got back with them, as they typically do.


Also, there is no law that says you have to answer your cell phone.  It can just ring and go to voicemail.  I’m sure you have caller ID.  Just because they seem to have an “emergency” doesn’t mean it has to become your emergency.   You don’t have to become slave to someone else’s availability. 



I have people who try to tell me or ask me about a situation in passing.  If I try to remember off the top of my head, I normally make a mistake.   Each time I ask them to write it down and I’ll take a look into it when I get a chance; again problems after 3pm.  Then when 3pm arrives I can take care of everything in one single focused sprint knocking out each task one at a time.

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44 thoughts on “Slave to the Immediate

  1. Good post! Sometimes we forget the power of FOCUS.

  2. realationaleric says:

    I often instruct my interns on the value of allowing for ‘intentional interruptions’. It means focusing your time so that when an interruption hits you can focus an appropriate amount of time on it or them without derailing your day.
    Good post!

  3. Great post. I found early in my career I fell into the trap of treating every situation, interruption, phone call and email as ‘urgent’. I’ve since learnt to manage expectations – both my own and other people’s. As a result (most of the time!) I’m less stressed and more effective 🙂 .

  4. Rajiv says:

    Very good post. We are all guilty of this, and have been for some time. Things have become worse, with constant emails flowing in through our computers, tablets and smart phones. We have lost the power to focus

    • You know you are completely …………………………………………………. right with what you are saying. (sorry I had to answer a text and check facebook) Have a good day

  5. Jamie says:

    Excellent post! Perhaps I should be waiting until after 3:00 to let you know.

  6. When you try to do everything, you do nothing. Great article!

  7. Kerwyn Hodge says:

    A powerful post! When we prioritize our tasks, it’s easier to keep focused. I write down each day the things I MUST get done. Below that I put the things I’d LIKE to accomplish. The MUST’s get first attention. Then I can give priority to the LIKE’s. Eventually, some of the LIKE’s become MUST’s, but until then, they’re in second place. I also like the idea of setting aside time to do certain tasks (like respond to emails, reply to texts, etc.) I don’t do that enough, so this was a great reminder to become more focused!

  8. Ian Munro says:

    I was attracted to the portion of this post relating to interruptions. Two thoughts come to mind:

    “Someone else’s lack of planning does not constitute my emergency.”

    “I would rather disappoint the person that didn’t plan for my time than the person that did.”

  9. I love this article. And my co-workers have finally accepted that there will be certain times during the day that I don’t answer emails. I shut off the phone and email for an hour each day in order to work on my priority project. And, if I don’t have a priority project that day, then I catch up on all the little stuff! It’s been years in the making, but I’m much more efficient than every before. This article is a great reminder! Thanks!

  10. wnewport2009 says:

    Great post and so true. Also, thanks for checking out my blog.

  11. ednwokoye says:

    This post is for me. I need to give myself to the ultimate things and free my energy from the minor things.

  12. Time management is key!!! You must manage your time and not let time manage YOU!! Set time blocks for your tasks and then prioritize those tasks in your day, Since each day differs…remember to keep flexible…for those little interruptions.

  13. jackwbruce says:

    I don’t have to answer my cellphone?! Good word.

  14. themantisshrimp says:

    One of the most wise things I have heard in a while. Thanks.

  15. Similar to the 3 pm rule is something that I and many of us do. I give myself 15 minutes or so in the middle of the day to do nothing and simply refresh. I collect my thoughts and poise myself for a productive afternoon.

  16. Johann says:

    Great post and definitely a good reminder to keep focused. Again, it’s all about balance and priorities – being able to quickly screen what’s urgent or not. There will definitely be distractions that can’t be pushed to 3pm, but those emergencies are really very rare.

  17. Well said. Such basic advice that anyone can apply in their lives. Thanks for sharing!

  18. pinwika says:

    Yes! there is discipline in checking off your to-do list items!
    Totally appreciate your posts! Thanks for liking my most recent post.

  19. Modern man of the technopolis is chained by the dictatorship if the clock. On the other hand as your post indicates we still have power to get through it in a positive way.

  20. helenthis51 says:

    Good points.

  21. I usually can do this…unless the immediate task brings me more joy than ultimate.

  22. ekurie says:

    so easy to spin our wheels allowing others or issues to become bigger than our own goals. Distortion sometimes doesn’t look that way until we look back. Great blog.

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