I write every Tuesday and Friday for my blog. I won’t let myself miss a day, no matter what. Sometimes though, I’m completely lacking in inspiration and have no clue what I’m going to write about next.It’s in these times that I use urgency to force something out of me. I wake up the morning of and I furiously throw something together that turns out far better than I thought it would.
This is one of those mornings and I want to explore this very idea. The power of putting yourself under pressure and how we can all wield urgency as a tool (I know, it’s all very meta).
What Is Urgency?
Urgency is the need for immediate and swift action towards something of importance. We’ve all been in urgent situations before, where we must get the job done. More often than not, we are able to do exactly that.
When we face urgency, we are able to stop overthinking and simply do. It’s an out of body experience that is hard to explain, but clearly very powerful. Despite it’s power, urgency has two clear enemies: complacency and false urgency.
Complacency is inaction. It is being content with the status quo. It is not caring about problems or progress or growth. It is resisting change.
Complacency is the biggest enemy when trying to be urgent. They are complete opposites. Any situation that has high complacency makes it that much more difficult to get real work done.
On the other hand, we have false urgency, which is exactly like it sounds. Have you ever encountered the employee or boss or peer that gives their work top priority, no matter how menial it may be? They believe it is the most important thing and the world will end if it’s not complete. This is urgency used in completely the wrong way.
When we tie false importance to work, we are negating the value of urgency all together. It starts to lose it’s meaning, as people realize it’s not what it seems. Misusing urgency can be detrimental.
Outside of these enemies, we also don’t want our sense of urgency to literally be a do or die situation every time. This is where it becomes important to understand how to use urgency effectively. Here are 3 easy approaches.
1. Time Pressure
Have you heard of Parkinson’s Law? It essentially states that work expands to fill the time available for its completion. So if you have a semester to finish a project, there’s no way you’re going to finish it in a month or a few weeks. You’ll be working on it till the end.
Work expands to fill the time available for its completion.Parkinson’s Law
Understanding this law, we can adjust our time frames to leverage it. Give yourself less time to do your work, as you know you won’t use more than that anyways. While this sounds great in theory, it’s not so simple. That’s where accountability comes into play.
Saying you’re going to do something and doing it are very different things. We often try to hold ourselves accountable, but it’s easy enough to convince ourselves to move deadlines and practice lenience. There’s always tomorrow…This is why we have to get others to hold you accountable. Tell anyone and everyone what your goal is, what your plan is. That social pressure will help keep you on track and work with a greater sense of urgency. Now your reputation is on the line.
Finally, but probably the most effective, is competition. Simply working towards a goal without any outside stimulus is one thing, but when you know some other individual or company or organization is trying to do the same, the stakes are raised.
Competition can be an empowering approach for building urgency, even if there’s no one obvious to compete against.
Without a sense of urgency, desire loses its value.Jim Rohn
The point is not to run around like a mad man, instilling fear and raising hell, but you do need some fire. You need to hustle and know that the rest of the world isn’t going to wait for you to be ready to work.
The important things are within reach, but if you don’t attack them with urgency and overcome complacency, they will be lost.
Embrace the pressure.