What is your typical workday like? For many people, work consists of a series of various urgencies. Set them up and knock them down one by one. We empty the in-box, respond to the boss, attend a few meetings, answer a bunch of incoming calls, and with the rest of our time we work to make a deadline.

Over any period, there may be fewer, or more, urgencies than usual. Many of the urgencies are reactionary due to deficiencies in the system.

What if we tried something different? What if we used more time moving system deficiencies from the “later” pile to the “it’s essential to do this right now” pile? It might be surprising to see the change as improving a system returns our effort many times over.

As examples. Fix the supply chain. Dig deep into your communication process. Figure out, with your boss, the priority list of things that must be done. Quit the tasks that are holding you back. Walk away from dead ends. Add rigor to your processes. Understand the difference between the things that feel urgent and those that are truly important.

None of the above works if you do it temporarily. The point is to create and fix systems with finality. Identify a class of projects or activities that your team will do instead of you and then never do them again! Delegation is very powerful. It frees you up to do more important things like strategic planning, etc., but is great for developing personnel to take on more responsibility.

Reorganize your data archiving approach and then stick with it. Build a system for lifelong learning and then maintain the commitment.

In any given moment, an urgency that feels like an emergency gives us the permission to abandon our systems and simply dive in and fix it, as only we can. And this permission is precisely why we get stuck, precisely why the next urgency is likely to appear tomorrow. Resolutions do not work, but habits and systems can.

Most of us are so stuck on the short cycles of urgency that it is difficult to even imagine changing our longer-term systems. This simple adjustment in your workday commitment (redirecting or avoiding the things that have been holding you back) might be the single most effective work you do all year. Make a commitment to try it, seek advice and counsel from your boss, and start the transition to your new system very soon. You may be shocked how this turns out.