Prasanna Natarajan

Develop a sense of urgency

This is Brian Tracy’s standard quote. I heard him say it several years ago. And I remember it till now.

I’ve always been lazy. Lazy in my daily activities, and lazy in my life generally. Lazy to get things done and lazy to work towards goals. I’ll be the last person to get up after finishing the meal. Even after waking up in the morning, I’ll feel lazy to get out of the bed. My walk isn’t fast. It’s slow and soft. Bathroom breaks have always been these cherished precious moments. Lazy to drive and lazy to dress up.

Sure, when there’s fire up my bottom in the form of motivation or deadline, I get things done. But my default state is laziness.

But recently I read somewhere that laziness is man’s biggest enemy. It resonated with me.

There could be other big enemies too for man, like lack of self-discipline and lack of vision. But if you’ve overcome these 2, then laziness is the next to overcome.

I have passed on opportunities and failed to grab strongly to existing opportunities all because laziness. I can only shudder now thinking of all these lost opportunities.

Being smart won’t help you enjoy a great life if you are also lazy. In fact, you’ll be more miserable than a less smarter person because you’ll be acutely aware of your shortcomings. You’d know you could’ve been better if only you had done X.

So now, I don’t want to be lazy.

One way to ward off laziness is to have a great life mission. It sounds fancy, but it’s just this. Have a reason to wake up daily. Work on an exciting side-project or plan a business or learn something that might be useful in the very short-run etc. That’s what Scott Adams of Dilbert fame suggested in his book.

But if you don’t yet have a clear mission and don’t have a side-project, you could simply practice being urgent in you day to day activities.

(btw, have some side projects and work on them daily. In this mind-numbing corporate work culture, the only thing that’ll stimulate you is some project you care about building it. Mine right now is this blog)

So, that’s what is my upcoming 30-day challenge about. To develop a sense of urgency in all things I do throughout the day.

How would I do it? I don’t know it yet.

I could start with adding urgency in things I’d do daily.

Or would it be better if I set some deadline for each activity I’m about to do? For example, if I’m about to take bath and get dressed, it involves a lot of little details. Before even getting into the bathroom, I could see the current time and choose some random time from now - maybe 15 mins from now. And once the task is done (in a hurry), I could verify if I made the correct prediction. I could even use this info to calibrate my deadline time the next day. Believe it or not, in software, predicting a task’s time is difficult and this might give me some practice into this.

Well, I like this second model. It seems more doable for all kinds of activities. But the only problem is, I have to remember to see the clock and make the prediction for all the task I’m going to do. If I forget it, then I lose the chance to set a deadline and also to develop urgency.

I now like this challenge so much after thinking about it. It would do all sorts of wonders wouldn’t it? I would be able to come up with the “minimum time to do this” value for virtually all habitual activities and use that to keep myself on toes on any day. Doing it for 30 days means I would get into the habit of always predicting a task’s time and also into the habit of finding ways to do it faster.

I also wonder how much I could push myself in a day, or even in a month before I get burnt out with too much activity. But I guess I won’t suffer that fate as long as I do at least one task per day that uses a different part of my mind. Example, going to gym in the late evening after work almost always makes me feel relaxed and calm. I could also play one table tennis game at the office post lunch and maybe take a short coffee break in the evening with colleagues. I might not even need all these office watercooler stuffs. Just pomodoro and some pushups would be more than fine. Also, too much focused work never drains you out. It’s the opposite that does. Mindless surfing of different websites and not deciding on a task is more draining.

Anyway, this sounds like a great candidate for a 30-day challenge. I’m going to do it, and might share here a postmortem once done.

What do you feel about this topic? Has your life too been plagued by laziness? If not could you please share what’s your secret sauce to beat lethargy?