Do you do your best work just before the deadline?
Do you always seem to be rushing from task to task, meeting to meeting, thing to thing?
Do you become distracted by something while still working on something else?
Do you give up quality time with people to handle a “crisis”?
If you answered “Yes!” to even two of these, you might be ruled by the clock. This is known as urgency addiction and it’s perfectly acceptable in our society. But it’s an addiction, and addictions do not serve us well over time.
What exactly are we addicted to? When faced with time pressure, our adrenaline starts to pump and we feel energized and engaged. Serotonin and dopamine rushes to our brain. These chemicals make us feel good. Over time, though, it takes a toll.
Externally, we look like we’re pulling it all off.
Internally, we’re a wreck. We retain less knowledge. We take short cuts. When we perceive everything as urgent, we step into a place of hyper vigilance and that creates fatigue.
If this becomes our standard operating mode, it can impact our interpersonal relationships when our self-absorbed desire to put out fires prevents us from empathizing and focusing on what other people are experiencing and telling us.
That doesn’t serve us, our colleagues, or our families.
Brace yourself, though, there are ways to end this cycle.
If you’re ready to tackle the addiction, here are some suggestions:
Explore the Urgent/Important Matrix by Stephen Covey
Learn to say “no” to the things that don’t matter to you. After all, when you say “yes” to something, you are saying “no” to something else, even if it is unintentional. Here is a link to a podcast, Saying No Gracefully that provides many tips.
Block out time in your calendar simply for planning. Make this time sacrosanct; it is work with huge payoffs
Get clear on what talents and strengths you have that “juice” you rather than suck the life from you. How can you do more of that and partner with others to manage the rest?
Challenge yourself to re-schedule, eliminate or delegate five things from your task list
Consider how you might be contributing to an oppressive work environment and modeling urgency addiction. What is a conversation you can have with your higher-ups? How can you be the umbrella that stops the stuff from hitting your employees?