Chris Markiewicz's Blog
Every Monday – thoughts, observations and ideas that hold up a mirror to who & how we are

A head full of urgents?

Do you ever feel as though you have a head packed full of “urgents”?  Too many pressing things that you need to get done – whether at work or on the home front?

 This issue is one that comes up time and again on my courses, as people try to find ways of releasing the stress. We may, of course, have too much to do because we are too easily distracted or can’t say no (see my previous blog post: “Oh no!”) or because we are totally disorganised and don’t plan effectively.

 However, I have discovered a very simple way to ease the pressure of having all these urgent tasks to complete.

 Redefine “urgent”.

 So, my redefinition of urgent is summed up in one, three letter word:


 Urgent, quite simply, is now. Nothing else is urgent. Why? Because everything else can be planned whether for two minutes’ time or six months’ time.

 The natural consequence of this approach is that there can only ever be one urgent task at any given time.

 Time and again people tell me what a relief it is to redefine urgent in this way.

 The counter of this is to fall into the trap of equating urgent tasks with those that have deadlines, especially tight ones. If I view tasks with deadlines as actually not being urgent, given that I don’t have to do them right now, then the pressure is off – as long as I have planned in whatever it is I need to do in order to meet that deadline.

 There are three types of urgent task:

  1. The genuine interruption – where the task comes out of the blue and must be done right now. As I write this, I can hear a whining coming from my dog downstairs. So, I’ll break off now in order to take him out for a wee – remembering to save what I’ve written so far….

…… now, where was I? Oh yes, the other two types of urgent tasks:

  1. Whatever you have planned in to do right now. So, although it may sound a little odd, continuing to write this piece is now my “urgent” – ie: my current priority.
  2. Things that have been left/forgotten about and suddenly become the priority. These are undesirable and are usually symptoms of poor planning.

 Beware reacting to interruptions by dropping everything and treating them as if they are urgent, even if we are told they are. All too often, we allow interruptions that could otherwise be managed and put off.

 I’ve not yet mastered the art of negotiating with my dog’s toilet needs, but we can very often do so with other peoples’ requests or demands. I can ask for some time, rather than drop everything in order to do whatever it is there and then. It may be as simple as saying to someone who needs something “urgently” – “can you give me ten minutes to complete this and I can then be with you?” – no longer urgent, as I’ve planned it in.

 So, take stock of all those urgent tasks that are swilling around in your head and decide which one to do right now. The rest? Plan ‘em in for later.

 And what’s my urgent now? Breakfast (non-negotiable).

 Bye for now.




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