Defining Your Sense of Urgency While Keeping Calm

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Every email you get in your inbox seems to be flagged with that little red exclamation mark these days: “HIGH IMPORTANCE”.

Once you see that notification pop up in your Outlook, you immediately take a look at it…only to find that’s it’s really not that important. Of course, what we think is important is all relative. What seems important to someone else might not be to you. However, just because it isn’t urgent to you doesn’t make it any less stressful. You’re being pulled in all different directions and being told that everything thrown on your plate is urgent. How do you manage?

It’s difficult to find a balance between your priorities and the priorities of the people you work with. Since what you do affects other people’s work, it’s important to manage according to other people’s needs as well. But on the same note, it’s your time and you have to get your work done as well.

Define your sense of urgency

Before you throw yourself in a tailspin, take a deep breath. No, not everything is urgent and just because someone says it is, doesn’t mean that it is – even your boss. Instead of trying to do everything at once, go back to the tried and true method: prioritize. Ask yourself these questions:

  • How many people does this task affect?
  • It is holding up anyone’s work?
  • Does it affect the bottom line?
  • When is the “drop dead” deadline?

When you consider the answers to all these questions, you may come to find that something isn’t really as urgent as someone makes it out to be.

Keep your calm

Whatever you are doing, always remember to keep your calm. After all, you are only one person. You can only do so much. Try your best and do as much as you can. When you have a lot of things thrown in your direction, it can certainly get stressful. But stressing out will only make things more difficult.

Lastly, remember to set expectations. If you can get something done immediately, great. But if not, let others know. Chances are you both can work something out to make everyone happy.

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