A picture of the back of a large clock with people looking out from behind it.

Are you mistaking urgency for importance?

There will always be more stuff to do than there is time available to do it. And when we feel busy, it’s amazing how much more there seems to be to do.

The pressure piles on, things on the to-do list multiply, and we get drawn into the details of trying to get everything done.

Of course, we need to prioritise in order to have our greatest impact, but how do we make the decision on what to prioritise?

Don’t Fall Into The Urgency Trap:

One of the most common mistakes people make when they are overloaded is to start to prioritise the things that are urgent over the things that are important.

Those little things that have pressing deadlines that you decide to clear out of the way before you tackle the “big stuff” – they’re the things that really belong at the bottom of the list.

That task that your colleague just dumped on you at the last minute that’s messed up your plans – did you check why it’s so important to do it now?

Sometimes these things are important, but often they aren’t – and we waste time and energy focusing our attention on them.

Notice Your State Of Mind:

Your state of mind (the state that your mind is in) affects how you see and interpret the things that are going on in the outside world.

When your mind is busy (with thoughts rushing around it) everything starts to feel urgent. Instead of stepping back and assessing a task, we become reactive, often taking action which leads to more things to sort out.

It’s not the outside world that creates a sense of urgency, it’s the way you’re thinking about that outside world. 

Have you ever gone to bed feeling overwhelmed by all the things you needed to do, only to wake up the next day, feeling refreshed and finding that you can’t remember what you were so worried about?

The outside world hasn’t changed – it’s your inside world that has.

When you start to develop an awareness of your state of mind and the impact it has on the way you see the world, you start to recognise when to get stuck in and when to step away.

A sense of urgency only ever tells you how you are thinking about a situation – it doesn’t tell you what’s really going on.

Take One Small Step:

Before you tackle any task, ask yourself how it feels.

If you feel a sense of urgency to do something about it quickly, then do the opposite. STOP! 

Take a deep breath, give yourself a moment and check-in with how important it is in the grand scheme of things:

  • Does it fit with your mission (and the things that matter to you)?
  • What’s the impact of not doing it?
  • Are there more important things to be getting on with? (which may include giving yourself some time out)

You can still choose to do the task even if it’s not really that important – but instead of throwing yourself headlong into it, make it a conscious choice.

And notice that by giving yourself a moment to step back, you open yourself up to alternative approaches, see better opportunities, and the world doesn’t fall apart in the way you thought it would!

Want to explore these ideas in more depth?

The impact our state of mind has on how we experience the world, and the actions we take as a result has significant implications for the way we live our life.

When we really start to understand this at a deeper level it affects how we experience everything, how we interact with others and it helps us keep on showing up.

It’s a key concept that underpins my mentorship programme, and which we come back to repeatedly in our discussions, workshops, reflections calls, and coaching sessions throughout the programme.

There is a core module specifically focused on introducing you to, where our state of mind comes from, with exercises to help you to see the impact it has.

It’s not only a useful concept to explore to increase your productivity. It will help with your visibility, your authenticity, your influence, and your capabilities as a leader – and over the 12 months, you’ll start to understand the impact it has on your life in a completely different way.

Find out more about my Authentic Tech Leaders Mentorship programme and sign up here, or contact me if you have any questions.

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