Number One Time Waster – Continued

AddictionOf the 11 top time wasters, the number one culprit is changing priorities. We are all our own worst enemies when it comes to this issue.  I increasingly see this caused by individuals and even corporate cultures that are addicted to urgency.  Workers jump from one issue to another like the Dutch boy plugging the leaky dike.

As organizations cut staff and workers scramble to keep their jobs, urgency addiction is on the increase.  Each day, people leave work exhausted but feeling as if they have accomplished nothing.

Why does this happen? Well, it’s easier and often more fun than planning and execution.  Urgency comes to you.  You don’t have to find it.  It insists that you take action, which means you don’t have make decisions (a painful process itself). It can cause a rush of adrenaline. You feel good…for a while…only to be let down when the “high” is gone.

Did I say “high”?  Absolutely. An urgent environment can feel exhilarating.  Putting out fires makes you feel useful, successful and validated.  You feel like the superhero swooping in to save the day.   It brings instant gratification. A high!

It’s a status symbol: Busy=Important. We all have a need to be important, and this is an easy way to get there.

The ugly side is that it keeps you from accomplishing the truly important.  It is a self-destructive behavior that temporarily fills unmet needs. It keeps you from the truly important just like the empty calories from too much sugar replaces the good calories from fruits and vegetables.

Urgency addiction is a dangerous as other dependencies like drugs, alcohol and gambling. But unlike those problems, this one can be sanctioned, even encouraged and rewarded in the workplace.

Try these to avoid the trap:

  1. Do the important things first.  Don’t reward yourself with the “urgent candy” until you finish the truly important items first. See my previous post about how a busy Internet marketer keeps on track in a very distracting environment.
  2. Pay attention to your urge to jump to something “urgent” Like any addiction the first step to beating it is admitting you have a problem. When you feel that urge for your fix, stop yourself.
  3. Find a “sponsor”.  If you’re familiar with 12-step programs like AA, then you know addicts need help through the tough times.  Find someone who understands your situation and call them when you urge to jump.
  4. Take quiet time (away from the action) to plan your day and week.  Refer to that plan regularly throughout the day.  When tempted into an urgent situation use that plan as a guide to help determine if you should jump into it or not.
  5. Set very clear and obtainable goals.  Many urgency addicts have no clear goals. Not knowing what they should be doing, they are easily drawn into (and even seek out) urgent situations.

The bottom line is that you have a choice.

You can choose to get by or be successful. You can choose to be average or great.  You have the choice between chasing your tail and true accomplishment.

What’s yours?