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Rothman Consulting Group, Inc.

Vol 11 #3: Is the Urgent Consuming You?
ISSN: 2164-1196

Posted by on Apr 6, 2014

Is the Urgent Consuming You?

When you start work in the morning, what do you do? Do you check email, listen to your voicemail? Let the urgent take over your day? Do your meetings drive your day?

If you do, you are not alone.

Is there a better way?

There can be.

You can take your day and your calendar back. Here are some tips that will allow you to do the important work, not just the urgent work.

Tip #1: Build Slack Time Into Each Day.

Carve out some time each day for you to spend time on your work. If you are like me, that means you have to schedule it on your calendar. Yes, that means you actually create time on your calendar that says, “3-4pm do-this-thing with your name on it.” Lock that time. Don’t let anyone double schedule you, or overwrite that time.

Okay, it’s not really slack time, is it? But it is time for you to work on your work, which feels a little like slack time.

Tip #2: Schedule Meetings for 45 Minutes

Do you know about Parkinson’s Law, “Work expands to fill the time allotted”? It does. So do meetings. If you schedule meetings to be only 45 minutes long, they only last 45 minutes. Isn’t that amazing? If you schedule meetings to be an hour, they last an hour.

When you schedule a meeting to last 45 minutes, you have a chance to return to your desk, prepare for your next meeting, or even–surprise, surprise, take a bio-break!

Tip #3: Turn off Your Notifications

One of the biggest problems with the urgent interruptions we have at work is with all the interruptions. If you have many text messages or emails, turn off the notifications every so often. Yes. turn them off.

You are allowed to concentrate. You can’t do that if you are always being interrupted with notifications.

Try these three tips and let me know if you are doing more important work, and less urgent work.

Help Me Launch “Manage Your Job Search”

My newest book, Manage Your Job Search is complete—the ebook and the print version! I’ve been speaking and running workshops to help launch it.

Starting April 10, I’ll be hosting a series of launch special calls about Manage Your Job Search. All the details will be in the next Pragmatic Manager email I send. Stay tuned.

If you’ve read the book and found a new job, please write your review of the book somewhere and let me know. Thanks!

New to the Pragmatic Manager?

Are you new to the Pragmatic Manager newsletter? See previous issues.

See my articles page for my articles. If you see one that interests you and you would like me to speak about it, let me know.

I keep my blogs current with my writings: Managing Product Development,
Hiring Technical People, and Create an Adaptable Life.


© 2014 Johanna Rothman


  1. I’ve tried tip #2, schedule meetings for 45 minutes, but it never works as advertised. Meeting participants expect meetings to end on the hour or on the half hour and ignore the difference in the schedule. Your tip gave me an idea, though. I’ll try scheduling meetings to start at 15 minutes past the hour and the meeting expectations won’t be a problem. I’ll miss out on the prep time for the next meetings but I’ll have prep time for these.

    • Darryl, definitely do try that.

      I wonder why your participants don’t want their meetings to end early. Oh well. I have had better luck than you. “Your mileage will vary” :-)

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