Urgency And Context

If you are trying to do meaningful work, you will find that there is always an urgent task needing completed. A grant application needs submitting, a proposal needs writing, a meeting needs scheduling. Even otherwise leisurely pursuits, like reading, become critical.

This is what people call “the tyranny of the urgent.”

The problem with the tyranny of the urgent, of course, is that it shrinks our view of what we’re doing only to what is directly in front of us, which both diminishes our impact and burns us out. What’s more, you’re probably facing multiple urgencies at once: work, school, family, the citizenry. And there isn’t an easy fix; the things in the window really are urgent.

Context helps, though, chronologically and situationally. The context questions are: how is this urgent thing related to the things that came before it and that will follow it? And how is it related to the urgent things in adjacent areas of my life? The answer might prompt us to take a deep breath and focus instead on one of those adjacent urgencies for a minute. It might prompt us to drop one of them.

Busy-ness is not totally a choice, but we can make choices within it.

One thought on “Urgency And Context

  1. Thank you for a valuable lesson. I get so caught in “What am I gonna do?” that it makes me have to think of just one or two things at a time. I keep trying to remember my dad’s lesson (at home and in class), “Change just one thing at a time, or you’ll never know what’s really causing the effect you find.”

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