“I have two kinds of problems: the urgent and the important. The urgent are not important, and the important are never urgent.”
- Dwight D. Eisenhower
In our world today, we’re faced with never-ending to-do lists, agendas and people to get back to. With constant distraction through our phones and an inner desire to keep up with everything, we can find ourselves feeling busy all the time. In the end, that’s what famous movies make us believe. You can only become successful if you work harder than everyone else in the room. We’re caught in a system of urgency where we rush from one thing that seems super important in the moment to the next one. But the problem is this: What is important is seldom urgent and what is urgent is seldom important. This principle is famously attributed to Dwight D. Eisenhower who was the 34th president of the United States.
With so many balls to juggle at once, it becomes crucial to learn to differentiate urgent tasks from important ones. The easiest way to do that is by asking yourself the question: Why? When you’re questioning the intention of a task, namely asking “why”, you are honest with yourself and get to the underlying motivation of it. By doing so, you can evaluate the importance of a task quickly and effectively.
Consequently, whenever faced with a big project, a long list of tasks, or an overwhelming amount of ideas, reflect truthfully on your intention. This helps you gain clarity in what you want and what outcome drives your intention. Thus, prioritization becomes easy and you can focus more on the stuff that actually matters, the important things.
The what, why framework helps you reshape tasks, projects or even ideas in your professional or personal life in an easy manner. The best part? It’s easier than you might think. Firstly, specifically describe what it is you’re trying to accomplish. Next, become clear on why you want to do that thing.
If you have a long list of projects or tasks, take a minute and answer those two questions for every item. Try to be as specific as possible with the what and truly honest on the why. Through this, you gain clarity and can sort through the things in your life quickly.
Although this framework appears to be super simple and maybe even unnecessary to do, it is powerful and has the potential to transform your life in many ways. Further, thanks to its simplicity, you can use it in different situations in your life.
Personal: Whether it’s a health goal you’re pursuing, a new skill you want to learn or time with your loved ones. Applying the what, why framework helps you boost motivation through clarity.
Workday: Many e-mails, slack messages and tasks on your plate? What, why helps you prioritize effectively. Impress your peers through clear thinking and meaningful progress.
Business: Setting goals is important to navigate your way in the process of building a company. The what, why framework helps you set clear goals for your team and allocate time and resources to maximize impact.
Overall, the what, why framework is a great universal tool that can help everyone stay on track and prioritize effectively. Give it a shot and see your life transform through a renewed sense of clarity.
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