Boriana Valentinova

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Urgency trap

Are you falling into the urgency trap?

We all fall into the ‘Urgency trap’. Especially around the time of the year when we want to close deals and projects, fulfil deadlines, spend budgets and reach destinations. Everyone is in a rush, everything is urgent, and it seems like the world will end badly if we don’t speed up (more) and get the urgencies out of the way.

So, I use a prioritisation strategy to declutter and see through whenever I feel saturated with hundreds of To Do’s, pressure from deadlines, and extreme multitasking. The key is to define what is urgent and important and then decide what to do or how to deal with it.

I employ the Eisenhower Decision Matrix to get that clarity.

Eisenhower Decision Matrix

1. Urgent and important

Whatever falls into the 1st square should be indeed urgent and important. Those activities and actions have deadlines, which, if not fulfilled, would have harsh consequences. So, action has to be taken immediately. Focus on them. You do need to close those as per deadlines. Examples:

  • Deliveries clients are expecting and have already inquired about it
  • Invoicing
  • Finishing a presentation that is crucial for the closure of a project
  • Solving a bug that stops the online booking
  • Comply with data protection laws that are about to be enforced

2. Not-urgent but important

Those are activities without a set deadline that can bring you closer to your goals. These actions sometimes come disguised as urgent, but in reality, they are not. As long as there are no set datelines, you can work on them as a second priority, especially if you have limited resources. That does not mean they are unnecessary; they are just not as urgent. Plan to carry them out sometime in the future when you are less stressed and not so much under pressure.

Examples:

  • Strategic planning for your business
  • Professional development and learning
  • Networking activities or socializing
  • Exercising
  • Yearly medical check-up

3. Not-important but urgent

I’ve always wondered how something non-important can be urgent? But reality taught me it is possible. I find these activities the most sneaky ones. We tend to get confused about them and lose perspective, falling into the urgency trap and setting them on top of our to-do lists. So instead, think about them as something you can delegate or that will not affect your business if you don’t do it. 

Examples:

  • Writing posts for social media (unless this is what you do for a living)
  • Responding to emails that are not urgent but we think are urgent
  • Redesigning your office with a more efficient layout
  • Attending some meetings
  • Kicking off a project (you don’t need to do) to lock a budget

4. The real urgency trap: not-urgent and not-important

You might think these activities should not even be considered. They tend to be nice to do things and not must do things. They are more for pleasure than business. I’m all for relaxing and enjoying such activities, but when you are under pressure, it’s not the right moment for them. They suck up your energy and distract you.

Examples:

  • Social media browsing (unless you are a community manager, then it is part of your job)
  • Watching Netflix. The fantastic Criptocurency movie is optional to watch, not a must.
  • Video games
  • Working hours on a project whose goal and purpose are not clear
  • Launching a product without user definition
Priorization matrix

To avoid falling into the urgency trap and stressing yourself, focus only on the Urgent and Important to close ASAP. Then, you can plan for the Not Urgent but Important shortly with more energy, resources and positive vibes. Set them as Goals and draw a roadmap!

Delegate the Urgent but Not Important and rethink all the Not Important and Not Urgent.

This prioritization will allow you to set sequence and order, which will let you consequently slow down and diminish your stress level!