Here are 3 ways you can determine what is urgent so you can focus on what really matters right now.

3 Ways to Differentiate the Urgent from the Important {How to Have a Stress-Less Life – Week 2}

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I can’t believe it’s only been a year ago.

I was weighed down by a metric ton of expectations and responsibilities: some perceived, some real, some mine, some from those around me, some genuinely urgent, some important, and some not important at all.

Here are 3 ways you can determine what is urgent so you can focus on what really matters right now.

Yes, I believe that God will not give us a burden we can’t bear.

His yoke is easy, His burden is light.

But what about the burdens we give ourselves? And what about the burdens others give to us? We aren’t nearly as gracious to ourselves and others as God is to us.


It was a chilly January afternoon. My husband came home from work and I grabbed my purse and flew out the door in a panic. I knew I was in a bad place. A very bad place.

Once again I had lost it with my kids and yelled at them.

My kids were just being kids, but their childish behavior was preventing me from working; and I had deadlines. Didn’t they get it that I had deadlines??

Deep inside I knew it wasn’t their fault.

“I just need to organize my time better.” I thought to myself.

Then the Lord spoke to me, “You’re doing too much. No amount of organization will help you when you’re doing too much.”

That’s when I knew that I needed to differentiate the urgent from the important and completely toss the unimportant.


1. Start at the foundation. Are there major stressers in your life that are out of your control: A baby not sleeping  through the night, an ailing family member, a special needs child?

You need to take this into account when determining what your load limit will be. Due to these stressers, you will not be able to take on as much as you normally would because you’re starting out with an urgent need that is out of your control.


2. Determine what is urgent. If you are Type-A, everything is urgent. However, this is a perception an not reality. To help determine what is urgent, ask yourself this question: “What things must be done right now and absolutely cannot wait another day.”

Example: my kids must be fed today. I cannot procrastinate on feeding my kids. However, if I have a writing deadline that doesn’t involve a sponsor, I can beg for mercy and extend that deadline.

You will have to realize that in putting off the important for a season, you will probably make some people mad, but it is better to upset those around you than to drive yourself to a breaking point in an attempt to please everyone.

And by important, I mean important to your life, important to your family mission and vision, and important to what God has called you to do. Certainty this thing is important to someone in the world, but that is not your concern at the moment. What is your concern is whether or not it is important to you, your family, and what God has called you to do. If this thing doesn’t match those three categories, then it is not important to you right now.

Sit down with a pen and paper and divide between three columns that which is truly urgent, that which is important and that which is not not important at all. Let the unimportant go this minute. Relieve yourself of that burden and don’t look back.

That which is important will have to wait. Once you’ve determined those things that are important to your life, family, and calling, make arrangements to put these things off for a season. This will likely not be a pleasant task, but it is vital that you lighten your load until you have resolved those things that are urgent.


3. Address the urgent. Now that you know what is truly urgent, you can make those things your focus. I would urge you to write these things down and keep them in a place where you will regularly see them to remind yourself of those things that are your present “yoke” from the Lord; but also to remind yourself that you are presently unable to take on another responsibility.

We must realize that God created us to only bear so much at one time. But He created community so that we don’t have to bear these things alone.

That is why we take those important responsibilities and turn to our community and ask that someone else help take on that burden for a season until we are able to bear it again; because we have urgent things that need our attention right now.


2015 has been a cleansing year for me: leaving behind those things that do not direct me toward my vision and purpose, placing on hold those things that do but can wait, and focusing on those things that are truly urgent to my family right now.

As I have done this, I have gained much greater insight as to what my vision and purpose is and how to prevent those distractions that keep me busy and hold me back from moving toward that vision and purpose.

As a result, I feel like I am running with greater speed and determination because I am not weighed down by a load that is much too heavy for me to bear!


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We live in a driven culture from the time we're young until our health gives out. This writer answerst the questions "What is the root of stress" and "Where does stress come from". Here's how we can live a stress-less life!

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    1. Oh – I hope it helps, Amanda. I hear you. I do the same thing. I drive myself to a breaking point and then do nothing all day….and the feel guilty for being unproductive. I am learning to say to myself, “LESS IS MORE!” and “Work smarter not harder”. It’s helped a lot!! this way I can take days off that are still mildly productive, and I’m not on the brink of a nervous breakdown all the time.

  1. Hi, I’m so glad I found you on Worshipful Wednesdays. I was immediately drawn to your post because of the title and realised that this was no coincidence. I actually just wrote about God’s yoke being light in the post I added today. I loved when you said “We aren’t nearly as gracious to ourselves and others as God is to us.” I’m certainly thankful for grace in those moments when we miss the mark. Thanks for sharing!

  2. I am still working on being able to actually not see all the daily tasks as urgent…. motherhood is a growing up for me more than my kids.


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