The seductive power of urgency

We keep hearing about how important it is to ‘ship it’ and rightly so. After all, it is this belief that something must be done [and fast] that makes people look forward to waking up the next day and work harder to make things happen. People with a sense of urgency live with meaning and purpose in their lives and pounce at every meaningful opportunity that comes their way.

But it is very easy to get seduced by the mere feeling of living a powerful life that this sense of urgency brings with it. We decide to make small things seem important when they are not. It makes us feel important and powerful. We start to equate busy-ness with productivity. The difference between urgent and important starts to blur.

Soon after I started my entrepreneurial career, I became an urgency junkie. I developed zero tolerance for having to wait for just about anything and can hardly remember a time when I wasn’t in the ‘now or it is the end of the world’ phase. The moment an idea came to me, I just had to execute it [and the number of ideas that come to me every day is a crazy lot]. I felt agitated if I was unable to do more than one thing at a time. I got restless waiting for the elevator and would often use the stairs instead. There was a constant struggle against the clock. It might even have added to my road rage. I never had enough time and it felt almost right because so many others around me felt the same way.

If you’re also always in a hurry, eating fast, rushing to meetings, or forcefully completing people’s sentences for them, read on to find out how I turned from a constant ‘frantic’ urgency in my life to a more ‘meaningful’ urgency.

How being in a constant state of ‘emergency’ was pulling me down

Time urgency is the name experts give to this constant hurry-worry that forces us into a continuous, unnecessary, loop of rush. For me, it had some serious consequences.

  • I not only wanted to do things fast, I also wanted to share my thoughts and ideas fast. My thoughts raced so fast race so fast in my head that my words failed to catch up and I end up with a slur in my speech.

  • I was always preoccupied with things I thought were extremely urgent. So much so that I had trouble recalling simple things and would, for example, forget to finish my cup of tea till it’s too cold to have it anyway. It was hard to store new information. It still is and I’m working every day to get better.

  • I knew it was alright for more than one things to be important but for all to be urgent didn’t make sense, and yet I found it almost impossible to prioritise. Everything needed to be done ‘yesterday’.

  • I lost sense of time. Since everything was urgent and had to be done at the earliest, to me it meant that there had to be a way to do it in a small amount of time. I ended up setting insanely impractical deadlines for myself that I could never meet. It made me feel miserable.

  • It killed my attention span. I could hardly focus on any one thing at a time. I got easily distracted and everything I initiated in a hurry ended up staying an item on my to-do list for a long time.

  • The stress of wanting to do everything simultaneously and not being able to see anything through to completion caused anxiety and reduced self-esteem.

  • Everything other than myself became priority. I hardly had any me-time because I felt guilty wasting time on luxuries when there were so many other seemingly pressing issues in my life.

  • My entire personal brand started to revolve around how busy I was – and not in a good way. I had to turn down invites to all industry events and eventually the number of invites started to lessen.

  • Worst of all, I was setting unreasonable expectations from my team members and adding to my frustration [and their low self-esteem] when they were unable to give the necessary results in the set time.

I also read recently that this was very typical of Type A personalities [even though this may be a very antiquated personality or behaviour type] who are more prone to developing coronary heart diseases. Thankfully I do not have any [known] heart problems as of now and I hope I am making amends right in time to avoid any such problems in the future.

What I am doing to move from ‘frantic’ to ‘meaningful’ urgency