How good are you at meeting deadlines? In the past week, have you shifted a meeting or deadline back because something urgent has come up?
A failure to meet deadlines can often be traced to urgency addiction. You may find that you push back on a longer term task because other seemingly urgent matters get in the way. Or you might struggle to get around to doing anything until the point when you get that shot of adrenaline that comes with racing against the clock. The latter example of self-sabotage is more extreme, but not uncommon!
One big problem area is email. Our addiction to email is the most obvious manifestation of urgency addiction today. The average person spends about 28% of their week managing email.
Every time you check your inbox, your mind is shifting focus away from what you were previously doing. Research has shown that each time an office worker is distracted from a task, it would take, on average, 25 minutes to return to that task. Check your inbox 4 times a day and that’s an hour of unfocused, unproductive time (and we all know we check far more frequently than that!).
Priority Matrix can help by providing a constant visual reminder of what your top priorities are for the day (focus on the “critical” top half of the 4-quadrants, instead of being distracted by the “immediate”, such as a New Message icon in your inbox). Organizing your tasks focusing on the long-term critical issues also ensures you factor in planning time, which is crucial for timely completion and quality execution.
So Priority Matrix can help you regain focus, but how can you identify if you have a problem in the first place, and work out how big the problem is?
You need diagnostic tools. Here are two examples from the email and productivity tracking space:
- RepriseMail diagnoses how each person, team or company uses email (it tracks 20 metrics, including inbox checks and response times), then offers targeted suggestions for workflow improvement. You can also track productivity gains over time. RepriseMail regularly hosts webinars – see their webinar schedule for more information.
- Chrometa tracks how long you are working in an application (and specifically notes what file or email you’re working on). It can add this information to a timesheet or create an invoice for you automatically, based on keyword rules that you create.
Are you meeting deadlines? Have you caught yourself jeopardizing timely completion due to an addiction to the urgent? Share your struggles and success stories!