20 December, 2012
The word "deadline" often puts dread in a lot of people. "Are you nuts?! You want me to dream up and deliver all these widgets to you by then? Do you know how long it takes to come up with one unique widget – and you want me to deliver so many?"
We've heard that before. We've said it before. But I believe that most often it's actually good. Here's why.
A sense of urgency gives us a mission. It gives others a mission. There's something specific that needs to be achieved by a certain time. Not "some time", but a time. It's the equivalent of putting a face to a problem. It means that every time you look at something, you'll see a specific date or time associated with it and it'll stare right back at you. And it won't flinch.
I also believe that a sense of urgency makes us all do our best work. It breaks down barriers and brings the focus on what needs to be done. It draws away from the dilly-dallying and the circular talking. Think about the number of times you've just chit-chatted with someone when you know they're charging you by the hour. Sure, the situation is different, but the principle is the same. The person values their time and must be done, so they can go on to the next thing. If there were no limit or no charge, it would take all day!
How about the last cab ride you had? The cabbie (most likely) drove rather unsafely to where you needed him to get you. You got dropped off, paid the fare, and he was off. Off to his next fare. There's a sense of urgency in his actions. There's no income while idle chatting.
Maybe if we thought of our work like that, things would be different. Skip the layers of process that get applied. The over-thinking and the paralysis by analysis. Nike coined "Just Do It", and it's easy to apply it to life:
"Here's your mission, go do it!"
Now keep doing it until you get to the good stuff.
So, look around you at what you need to do and give each item a sense of controlled urgency while you can. There might come a time when that sense of urgency is externally applied and you'll be scrambling on someone else's terms. By then you've most likely already lost.