February 16, 2021

141: Managing When Everything Is Urgent With Brandon Smith

Like most things in life, moderation is key. This is particularly true of urgency. When everything is urgent, either we can’t distinguish what’s really urgent or we burn out trying to do it all.

Today’s guest is Brandon Smith. Brandon is a leading expert in leadership communication and curer of workplace dysfunction. Known as “The Workplace Therapist,” Brandon is a sought-after executive coach, TEDx speaker, author and award- winning business school instructor. He has been featured in The Wall Street Journal, Fast Company, CNN, Fox News.com, NPR, Forbes and many others for his expertise. His book The Hot Sauce Principle: How to Live and Lead in a World Where Everything Is Urgent All of the Time helps readers to master urgency so they can more effectively lead others, manage others’ unrealistic expectations, and prevent burnout at home.

Brandon and I talk about how to use urgency in the right ways, the interplay between urgency and trust, boundary setting, and how to talk to your boss and your team members about when there is just too much to get done and not enough time, plus a whole lot more.

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Read the related blog article: How A Feeling Of Constant Urgency Became The New Work Norm And What We Can Do To Fix It

Key Takeaways:

  • The rise in iPhones, constant communication, and the fallout from the 2008 recession led to an increase in workers feeling more burdened and workplaces filled with a greater sense of constant urgency.
  • Small doses of the anxiety that comes from urgency can be a good thing, but too much will result in an exhausted team.
  • To reduce the constant urgency to be responsive, agree with your team to schedule emails written during “off hours” to be sent during work hours on workdays only.
  • To gain credibility points with your team members or manager, respond to emails that you’ll get to later with a simple confirmation that you received the message.
  • If you have too much on your plate, ask your manager to help you prioritize tasks or find more resources to help.
  • Create psychological safety by being vulnerable and authentic yourself, so that your team will feel comfortable being vulnerable and asking for help.
  • Limit how many “urgent” projects you give out at a time so as not to overwhelm your staff.


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