Not urgent, but really important

By this point, every school year, I find myself alone at my desk surrounded by empty Smarties boxes, glazed eyes and about forty tabs open on my screen. Usually, these tabs include my OPP pension calculator with various retirement scenarios including “right now” and Google flights with a blank destination. 

I know the Eisenhower Matrix is a way to organize ourselves, to reconsider what we are doing and how we are doing it. But for me, as I tried to figure out this blog post, I realized I have an internal pattern that connects deeply to the Eisenhower Matrix. It isn’t a healthy one. By late fall, I dive into the “not urgent and not important” quadrant.  I am not speaking to one of its potential purposes of encouraging thinking about self-care, relaxation and catching up on Brene Brown podcasts- I am talking about its darker side. Fancy procrastinating. Burn-out bliss. 

Need to reformat a math lesson to include winking cat emojis? Of course! Spend thirty minutes searching up how to make a moving Halloween bitmoji? No problem! Time blurs. My list of things becomes unwieldy. I feel myself morph from “SuperTeacher September” to “Ogre October”. 

But like all things awesome about Cohort21, this community is helping me reframe my quadrants and what I want in each one. Last week, I met with my group and @derekdoucet gave us a challenge. We had to write our blog for Wednesday (tomorrow). I cleared off the boxes of chocolate, closed my tabs and actually considered this matrix and its relationship to the way I work. 

I realized that I usually spend September in hyperdrive zooming as everything feels “urgent & important”. All the “yeses” I said in September take a toll at this point in the year as energy levels dive, so does my ability to juggle the various roles I’ve taken on or commitments I’ve made. 

Recognizing this pattern is helpful for me. Hauling myself away from my fancy procrastinating today felt liberating. It felt hopeful. As I’ve been writing and thinking, I’ve already begun to shift around things in my mind. I’ve put the spotlight on the important, but not urgent. On finding those rest and reset moments, on building relationships and creating connections. 

4 thoughts on “Not urgent, but really important

  1. Great blog Kathryn! I subscribe to Brene Brown’s podcast too. It’s wonderful to hear the affirmation to slow down. We are too often trying to be that “SuperTeacher” and going above and beyond to make an impact. Making the time to reflect, reset and rest is vital to our success. Identifying how we invest energy into our goals is a valuable practice that I’m still learning. We got this!

  2. I love this, Kathryn. I have definitely been guilty of Fancy Procrastinating as well. Mine usually takes the form of finding “that perfect youtube video” to hook my students into a lesson when, in reality, what they need most is to know their teacher will stand beside them as they learn.
    Welcome to Cohort 21!

  3. Hey @kobrien!
    Great post, honest, funny and isn’t it great when we are presented these ideas that help us to reframe our thinking?

    I think we are kindred spirits, I too love getting lost in the tweaks of a lessons with chocolate bars everywhere. When I worked at Greenwood, my office mates called me “The Goldfish” – they would put Nutrigrain bars on my desk from sports games and I would devour them while designing my lessons.

    Sometimes the important work is hard because we never feel that sense of accomplishment, of having ticked all the boxes of urgent work. It’s a different feeling of satisfaction that we are playing the long game.

    Looking forward to hearing more about your reframing and how you’re approaching the work! See you tomorrow!


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