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The Mere Urgency Effect ⌚

Yesterday, I spent the entire day replying to emails, taking calls, and attending meetings. I felt tired at the end of the day but when I asked myself, “Did I really work on important things?” the answer came out to be “NO!”

This is the Mere Urgency Effect.

It’s the tendency of prioritizing time-sensitive tasks over tasks that aren’t time-sensitive even when we know the rewards and importance of those non-time-sensitive tasks are higher.

A reason why we feel replying to emails is so urgent - there’s always an unread one lying in our inboxes.

Here are four ways you can say goodbye to this cognitive bias:

  • Use the Eisenhower matrix to classify tasks as urgent/not urgent and important/not important. You can then decide what to do with a particular task depending on the quadrant it falls into
  • Allocate a couple of your most productive hours every day to deal with your important tasks.
  • Allot specific time periods to your low-value activities like email, calls, etc.
  • Allot a deadline for your important tasks otherwise you’ll never get around to completing them.

Can you add a fifth one to this list?

Love,
Siddhita ❤️
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