Task Management Pain Points – False Urgency

I’ve been working long hours the last few weeks and, despite my best efforts, I’ve been finishing my days with a nagging feeling that I’m not getting anything done. A big part of this is me biting off more than I can chew. As I’ve explained in the past, no task management system can make your day magically 30 hours long. You have to be realistic when planning your day.

There is, however, a related trap – false urgency. Specifically, in looking at my tasks, I’ve had this bloat of due dates and flagged items that are not merited. Part of this problem is a result of me going a little nuts with my project templates. As I showed in the latest version of the OmniFocus Video Field Guide, it’s now super-easy to add flags and due dates to your auto-generated projects. However, just because you can, doesn’t mean you should.

I can’t blame it all on the robot though. I’ve also been manually adding more flags and due dates than normal. This is a result of me feeling like I’m not getting enough done and then creating artificial deadlines to try and give myself a kick in the pants. While that may work for a day or two, in the long run it just made me feel further behind and desperate which, in turn, led to even more flags and due dates.

So over the past few days I’ve been looking really close at flagged and “due” items. Most of them did not need this artificial urgency and I’ve removed many of them. My task list once again only has a few truly time sensitive and flagged items and I’m getting my daily list back to something manageable.

Note that all of this is happening in my head. I’ve not technically increased the number of tasks I’m performing. Instead I’ve just made adjustments so I look at the list in a healthier fashion. I’ve been down this road before and can tell you that the net result will be an actual increase in productivity and a significant reduction in stress. 

If you feel like you are drowning right now, take a look at the false urgencies you are carrying around and see what you can do about setting them down.