The Power of Urgency – Maintaining Focus and Increasing Productivity


If a building is on fire, and your inside, your sole focus is getting out of it as soon as possible. If you’re in a boat that’s sinking, you’re doing everything you can to either patch the hole, find a life jacket, or get to shore.

Urgency is a powerful motivator, and not just in life or death situations.

Let’s say you slept through your alarm. You wake up realizing you have to be out the door in 5 minutes, or you’re going to be late for work/classes/etc. Suddenly, every action becomes one of efficiency. Distractions fade. There’s no time to think or debate.

You simply act.

You are fueled by urgency.

Urgency is a reminder that our time is limited.

People often try to ignore the fact that they live in a temporal world. The days in our lives are counting down, and the truth is, we don’t know how many of those days each of us have left. The people around you and the opportunities you have could be gone at any moment.

And that in itself should create a natural urgency, but it doesn’t.

In the lens of the human experience, time lacks tangibility. It becomes fluid. Hours can fly by while thirty minutes can drag on. That’s part of why we need physical objects to measure and represent time.

Clocks (or if you’re feeling particularly Grecian, sundials) make time physical. But they often fail to create urgency because they infinitely move forward, whereas our time is finitely running out.

So how can you bring urgency into your life? Should you even want to?

When harnessed correctly, urgency is a great way to maintain focus and increase productivity. How do you do that? By creating your own time limitations.

The simplest way to do this is to set a timer.

Having a timer counting down is the perfect representation of the fact that your time is running out. But you’ll want to incorporate a little strategy as well.

In a given day or setting, break up your different responsibilities and goals. Now, assign time limits to each. A maximum amount of time you have to spend on them to get to everything you need to.

Once you have that sorted, start a timer for the first item, and go until it stops. As long as that timer is running, you don’t focus on anything except the task at hand. When the timer is up, you stop. Even if you’re not done.

You stop, take a break, clear your mind, and then you move on to the next item. If you weren’t able to finish, you’ll have to circle back to it later with a new time limit.

As for the breaks in between…

You’ll want to set a timer for those as well. Otherwise, you may find yourself going down some website or social media rabbit hole, only to realize you just lost an hour doing nothing. In the case of rest, the timer serves as a reminder that there’s still work to be done.

It takes conscious effort.

And it’s going to feel weird at first. Even once you start to follow your new system, it can be easy to fall off the wagon or make exceptions. But if you’re truly struggling with getting things done in a timely matter, stick with.

In time, this method of creating urgency can yield powerful results, allowing you to accomplish much more in much smaller periods of time. Speaking as a creative-minded person whose thoughts wander like buffalo in 1700’s North Dakota, the idea of scheduling out my different tasks and goals goes against everything my brain naturally wants to do.

But I also know that I get my best results when I’m under the gun.

Pressure has a tendency to crush the distractions around me as I become set on doing as much as I can on one thing in the time I have.

It’s something that won’t work for every task/project/lifestyle, but I think it’s something worth trying for almost everyone. You can also get more creative with it. Try using an album length or creating a playlist for your timer.

Just make sure you don’t get too caught up in jamming to your favorite song.

You don’t have to do it for everything.

Urgency, countdowns, and timers can be great for a lot of things, even beyond work. You can utilize it for practicing an instrument, running errands, or even cleaning the house.

But if you reach a point where you’re setting a timer on how long you can hang out with friends or be at some event, you may be taking it a little too far. Sometimes, you simply need to be in the moment.  To actually let yourself enjoy time through the lens of the human experience.

Are you struggling with urgency, lack of motivation, or general productivity?

We can all feel trapped in the cycle of our lives sometimes, unable to breakout and change things. The cause of this can be different for everybody. Some feel a lack of energy. Others are well aware of the urgency of life, and it paralyzes them.

If you find yourself struggling with productivity and self-worth, talk to somebody about it. There’s often an underlying reason that you can’t always see yourself.

Professional counseling is often seen as something for extreme situations, but it doesn’t have to be. The ability to live a better, fuller life is important. A counselor can help you do that. To find a Christian counselor that specializes in your needs, use Torrch.

It’s free and non-evasive. You can even connect with a potential counselor before your first meeting. Try it today.

What tricks do you use to be more productive?

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