A sense of urgency is the secret weapon of the self-starter. A self-starter adopts a sense of urgency because he or she understands that time is the most precious commodity, and wasted time can never be won back.

I try to instil this in my kids, with almost unwaveringly poor results. Whenever they’re asked to do anything around the house, or to get ready for school, they seem to head into a neutral gear, returning the aside I made to them once: ‘yes Dad, I’m on a sponsored go slow…’ They don’t buy into the concept of the sooner you start something and the quicker you do it, the quicker you can get onto something else. Either that, or they fly through jobs in a slap-dash fashion that necessitates a rework and the accompanying retort: ‘if only you’d done it right the first time, you’d be done by now…’

It’s all about balance. A sense of urgency – in work or play – combined with the right level of quality gets things done in the most effective way. Emptying a dishwasher, putting everything in the right place with no breakages and a sense of urgency gets the job done correctly in the least amount of time. This sense of urgency, using the dishwasher example, pushes us to group items for the same cupboard or shelf into one trip, so that we minimise aggregate journey time.

Of course, I’m not suggesting we fly around our daily work and house tasks like people possessed all day. Everyone needs downtime. Don’t get me wrong, I love to relax, and taking time out from work and play is key. But you can still relax well, relax effectively :-).

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