Our addiction to Urgency – Solution

Those who seldom or never put off what they could address now reported markedly lower stress levels in a PEPwordwide study of 4,200 workers. A similar relationship was found for those who seldom or never accumulated a backlog of work.

“Nice for some”, you may argue, “but I’ll bet they were working overtime to do it”.

Not necessarily.

It’s all about ‘prioritising by importance’.

To do this, simply assess a task’s importance to you, your team and your business.

An important and urgent task is delivering a time-bound report to a client. An urgent but relatively less important task is the weekly team meeting to discuss and share ideas.

Last month, we emphasised the usefulness of the PEPworldwide ‘Do it Now (if it will take you less that 10 minutes) or Decide Now’ philosophy to help personal management and efficiency. Use it to prioritise new tasks that appear on your list of demands.

If you’re not going to address the issue right this minute, then decide exactly what you are going to do with it.  Develop it (take it to the next level), diarise it in your Outlook, designate it to your task list, delegate it, do it routinely (for example, checklists or invoices you can regulate), deposit/file it, dump/delete it or get help if you need more information.  These guidelines can help you apply priorities to tasks and build personal organisation and thus, efficiency.

With your tasks prioritised, manage your exposure to external influences. Access to emails is now potentially 24/7 with smart phones and tablet technology ‘conveniences’.  According to PEPworldwide research of 5,000 workers, 50% of the population received more than 25 emails per day. This equates to at least 25 moments of reactivity and distraction and is not going to be conducive to efficient and productive work streams!

In 2008, scientists concluded that people consume three times more information on a daily basis as they did in 1960. New research shows that workers change computer windows or check e-mail or other programs nearly 37 times an hour.  That’s a lot of kerfuffle!

Do not be afraid to turn these gadgets off for a period of time while you’re working on something important. Old-school, but effective. PEPworldwide recommend not more than 2-3 inbox checks a day – any more than that and you are escalating your stress levels and feeding your urgency addiction.

Next month, we’ll dive deeper into the magic of email efficiencies – until then, deep breaths…

Top tips for ditching the urgency fix:

  • Adopt a “Do it Now or Decide Now” approach to tasks – it will simplify your life
  • Prioritise by importance: assess the impact to you, your team, your business
  • Use your Outlook calendar to your advantage: set time for important work or tasks and ensure what’s physically on your desk represents exactly what you need to achieve in that time
  • Do not allow for external factors to influence your task at hand; turn off your phone and shut down your Outlook – the world will continue to turn while you get something important done
  • Don’t go to the opening of an envelope – do you really need to go to that meeting? Decline if your presence won’t benefit you or the team (Remember: prioritise by importance!)
  • You are a finite resource – learn how to calm down when the going gets tough; be it through meditation or deep breathing, a walk around the block or a gym session (in other words, don’t rely on a vino at the end of the day to get your zen on).


Mark Rigby PEPworldwide – New Zealand

Johan Chr. Holst, PEPww Norway, Redaktør. Tilbake til hjemmesiden: pep.no


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