When we chatted a little bit about how to set yourself up for success, I brought up the effect that having a deadline has on me. Even in the most casual projects, under my own direction or someone else's, I need some sort of deadline. There needs to be some date in the future at which point I know I will be accountable for whatever it is that I need to do. While enabling me to be able to set myself up for success, this deadline also creates urgency.
This urgency is the propelling force to get things done.
Without a sense of urgency, I am likely to stay in bed. Forever. It's definitely not that I don't want to do things, but if I don't have a fire lit under me about it, I am going to keep pushing it off and mostly just because I can. Does this sound like you, too?
So, how do we create that urgency? Let's say it's our own project and there's no one we're accountable to about it. At first, we don't need any urgency because we are too excited about it. We get to work right away, but all too soon, the zeal fades. We still want to do it, we're just not as excited as we used to be. Maybe we hit a few roadblocks or it's not turning out as we planned. How do we push through and make it urgent?
In Eat That Frog by Brain Tracy, he suggests that a way to create urgency around something is to really want and be clear about the end result. This focus and desire keeps us from procrastinating something that is important to us. I think this is a great tactic to use on the big, big goals in life - the ones that too easily get pushed to the back burner because they aren't currently critical.
However, how do we keep urgency around the smaller, daily things? I want to suggest two things to help keep the urgency in your work.
The first is to be selective about what you work on in the beginning.
Only engage in projects that really serve your over purpose. Only do the things that are critical to your goals. Working on things that aren't important or provide no value, will not ever be urgent and it will be a struggle to not drag your feet about it.
The second is to keep perspective.
If you follow the first suggestion, it will be easier to see how the project fits into your greater goals. You'll be able to recognize how it contributes. This alone provides some urgency because it turns your project into a stepping stone onto something greater.
Notice how you work when you feel the urgency and notice how you work when you don't. How productive are you? How satisfied and happy are you about the work? Think about what's optional and wha's critical. How can you change the situation to create some urgency?