William Liao

June 7, 2021

No, not right now

Very few things, short of a building literally being on fire, require your immediate attention. 

Despite this, it can be easy to fall into the trap of false urgency — seeing every e-mail, every meeting, every item on your task list as a matter of life and death. 

When you view work this way, your entire day can feel like one exhausting game of Whac-A-Mole.

If you think you’re having one of these days, here’s an approach that might be able to help you reframe things for your benefit: 

  1. Take a deep breath (or two)
  2. Ask yourself: what happens if I don’t do this right now? If I don’t respond right away to this e-mail? 
  3. For the small % of things that truly present a high cost if you don’t do them soon: resolve to do them. 
  4. For all the other things you realize are not as urgent as you thought, schedule to do them later and declare: “no, not right now.” Saying this out loud can have a more positive impact on how you feel physically than you think. 

Firing on all cylinders at all times is not a sustainable strategy to produce great work. 

Developing the ability to distinguish between truly urgent matters & ones that merely feel urgent so that you can more effectively give & conserve energy just might be, though.