We see it all the time. In schools and universities, students leave their assignments and projects to the very last minute. They’ve cruised through the term and suddenly, they’re under the pump. They feel the urgency of the situation and pull an all-nighter in order to get the work done on time. Remarkably, they show up for class the next day, completed assignment in one hand, big cup of coffee in the other.
All of a sudden they can focus and harness extraordinary creativity to complete their work. Somehow they submit a passable, sometimes excellent, piece of work.
Maybe not the best example, as I’m sure many students would be happy to simply get a passing mark. Therefore, theres less skin in the game.
But what if the stakes were a little higher? What if your business were to fail if you couldn’t come up with enough funding by the end of the month? What if you had a deadline to meet where the consequences of not meeting it meant that you lost something valuable?
When we are in abundance, it’s easy to cruise along. We’re a little more carefree. We don’t always buckle down and work to our full potential.
In contrast, when we’re facing scarcity or our back is against the wall, suddenly we can channel our best work. Urgency brings something out in us that allows us to generate breakthrough thoughts or ideas, develop radically innovative solutions or simply just get massive amounts of work done.
We are able to harness extraordinary creativity, focus and work ethic.
So how do we create the conditions in our work that lets us tap into this super-charged, do-or-die effort?
Create urgency in your work by establishing constraints. These could be time or location based (i.e. “I need to get the work done in this time block in this space”). Reframe the work to position it as a highly urgent, highly important task. Bring in some accountability by working with others, checking in with them regularly and asking for feedback.
By raising the urgency, whilst also maintaining some discipline and consistency, we can replicate this high quality, remarkable work every day. Not just the day before the assignment’s due.