How to Survive, Succeed & Have a Long Career

Learn how to navigate your company and career with an expert. Watch David Harper for a fun and informative lunchtime topic with The Creative Coast.


About David:

David Harper is owner and Managing Principal of The Advisory Alliance, the oldest leadership consultancy in the Creative Coast, Lowcountry, and quite likely east of Atlanta.  Over the last 17 years, David and The Advisory Alliance have worked with regional, national, and international clients, advising and coaching numerous leaders in a wide cross‐section of industries, companies, and organizations.  From that, he has a few things he’d like his children and others to know as they navigate their careers.

Short on time? Read this post instead…

In today’s fast-paced world, time is the most valuable resource available to us, regardless of our position or profession. From world leaders and global enterprise executives to local non-profit organizers, we all have exactly 168 hours each week to divide among our work, personal life, and family. The challenge lies not in finding more time, but in allocating our existing time more deliberately and efficiently.

The Importance of Intentional Time Allocation Effective leaders stand out by being highly intentional about how they spend their time. It goes beyond mere time management and maintaining a planner; it’s about carefully considering the demands of your role and making conscious choices accordingly.

Stephen R. Covey’s Time Management Matrix Dr. Stephen R. Covey, renowned author of “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People” (and later an eighth habit), created a matrix to assist individuals in determining the most effective way to allocate their time at work. The matrix operates on two dimensions: levels of importance and levels of urgency.

  • Urgent and Important: Tasks that require immediate attention, such as crises (e.g., the COVID-19 pandemic), pressing problems, and looming deadlines. Examples might include addressing employee issues in a large company or immediate concerns raised by citizens in government roles.

  • Not Urgent but Important: Activities that are significant for long-term success but do not require immediate action. These include developing team members, improving processes, strategic planning, and preparing for potential crises. Neglecting these tasks could lead to future challenges.

  • Urgent but Not Important: Tasks that demand your attention due to their immediacy but are not crucial to your work or organization. These could be unexpected requests from colleagues, unscheduled meetings, or frequent text messages and calls.

  • Not Urgent and Not Important: Activities that neither contribute to your immediate responsibilities nor your long-term objectives, such as excessive emailing, online shopping, or social media browsing. Ideally, these should be minimized during work hours.

Balancing Urgency and Importance Covey emphasized that urgency and importance are interconnected but distinct. There are tasks that are both urgent and important, but there are also important tasks that do not require immediate attention. The key is recognizing the difference and allocating your time accordingly.

The Impact on Leadership and Career Leaders, employees, and individuals are often driven by urgency, focusing on tasks that demand immediate attention. While this may provide a sense of accomplishment in the short term, it is crucial to balance urgent tasks with important ones that contribute to long-term success and stability.

Covey advocates for a shift in focus from urgency to importance. By identifying and prioritizing tasks that are crucial to our roles and organizations, we can allocate our discretionary time more effectively, ultimately leading to a more successful and fulfilling career.