Or it will steal your freedom and reduce your productivity AND profitability
What is the Tyranny of the Urgent? It is elusive and unavoidable. But you know what it feels like. It is an insidious, pervasive and ever- present state of heightened emotional stress. Why is this a major concern? The fact that it affects all of us raises it to a level of crisis. It steals our freedom, peace of mind and it is the SINGLE biggest distraction of our employees. It erodes our critical thinking skills. It constantly interrupts our focus and creates anxiety. How does this happen? By the choices we make OR don’t make, sometimes at a moment’s notice to either allow ourselves to get distracted or not. Who is impacted by the Tyranny of the Urgent? Almost everyone with few exceptions. When does this happen? Multiple times EVERY day!
Simply stated, it stems from “Anytime Electronic Interruption.” As predicted five years ago, our hand-held devices are keeping us connected to anything, anytime, anywhere. We now use our hand-held devices for almost everything. More importantly, they use us for everything. Some of us even take them to bed at night! Connectivity is both a blessing and a curse. Connectivity has become the pathway for almost all we do as we have become helpless without technology and the need for immediate data at our fingertips. But this is taking its toll. The Tyranny of the Urgent (TOU) is on the rise; it cannot be stopped, but can be controlled. Control it or it will control you… or more impactfully, it will control your team. Our people are the “Net Worth” of the company. So, the more focused are their minds, the greater their productivity, the higher their satisfaction and retention.
I shared an article on this topic in June 2015. At that time, the statistics defining the impact of “Anytime Electronic Interruption” were already staggering. They are even more compelling today. The number of times we look at our phones daily would shock you: some studies say 50 times, others as many as 75 to 150 times. Each time we look at the phone, we look away from what we were focused on. On average, a business owner can receive and send 75 emails a day or over 300 emails per week, some of which are necessary but most of which are reactionary, not to mention the attention we divert to texts, news, etc. Imagine the impact on your business when you take these interruptions into consideration and then multiply them by the number of employees in your company. What does this tell us in terms of our collective ability to stay focused on delivering high quality services, products and profits?
TOU CONTROL TIPS
More and more is being understood about this ubiquitous challenge. Controlling the TOU requires that we set daily self-discipline boundaries around what is essential vs. urgent for optimal prioritization. Here are some “TOU” Control Tips, how to apply them and the benefits of doing so.
- Don’t Cause the TOU
- Conserve Energy
- Relentlessly Prioritize
- Use Email Rigor
- Meeting Innovation
- Sleep Alone!
Know how to respectfully disconnect from distractions and reconnect to yourself!
Don’t Cause the TOU – as a leader, you must bring calm and order to things. You cannot be the direct or indirect catalyst for unnecessary distractions.
Conserve Energy – the TOU saps energy from everyone. Look at it from this perspective and recognize business is a marathon, not a sprint. Coach your team to conserve company fuel.
Relentlessly Prioritize – always know your highest priorities and be relentlessly focused about “getting to finished” on them each day. Start with three priorities per day and fully commit to these first before all else.
Use Email Rigor – establish and enforce email and text controls. Don’t let electronic interruptions control you. You control them.
Meeting Innovation – there are only three kinds of meetings: Information Meetings, Planning Meetings and Decision Meetings. They cannot cross over. Learn to run focused, shorter meetings with a “Meeting Agenda Template” to ensure no time is wasted.
Sleep Alone! – don’t take your phone to bed at night. We need uninterrupted sleep. Learn to put the phone aside more during the day, but especially at night.
You can, in fact, control when you choose to look at your hand-held device, so choose wisely. Control the Tyranny of the Urgent!