Tuesday, 11 September 2012


The most notable change from life in the working world to life at home is my understanding and definition of urgency.

I am amazed at the level of stress created by the professional's determination of things that must be addressed now.  A phone call coming in reveals a crisis that sets off an avalanche of actions as a result. A late night email cannot be ignored until 9am the next day, but is assessed, addressed and answered immediately.  A hiccup in a detailed plan results in chaotic and urgent micro-managing until some semblance of order is restored.

I look at all of this from the outside and shake my head.  These words: urgent, crisis, immediate, problem, are being horribly misused.  Urgency is a gashed open head wound gushing blood and needing to get to the ER.  Crisis is a word I now reserve for families in foreign countries who live in the crosshairs of gunfire, or children who have never eaten a full meal.  When did these words get redefined to mean a missed advertising deadline, or a client with a question about a project?

Blood pressures skyrocket, stress levels soar, headaches pound, families are ignored, because of this faux sense of urgency.  I heard somewhere that the little blinking red light on the Blackberry phone (the one that indicates some sort of action on the phone, be it a missed call, a phone message, an email, or a text) - that red light begging to be attended to creates the same chemical brain reaction as an addict needing their next fix.  The user has a physical reaction that creates a need to check why it is blinking.  We have seriously messed up our brains if that is the case.

I wish the professional world could take a step back and see not only how silly it all is, but how potentially dangerous for health and well-being and relationships it is.  Unless you are an emergency responder or a doctor, your work is not urgent.  It is not life or death.  It can wait until tomorrow.  The higher ups need to stop creating this false sense of urgency for their employees, who feel trapped in the age of instant communication and forced to offer instant replies.  Everyone needs to just shut it down at 5pm, walk away, and relax and enjoy their loved ones.  I have a feeling that in the long run a healthy, happy, balanced workforce will be infinitely more productive in fewer work hours.

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