Living in the Moment: The Urgency Fallacy

“What day is it? It’s today,” squeaked Piglet. “My favorite day,” said Pooh.
― A.A. Milne

John was a hard working man who always took on extra responsibilities at work. He approached every problem as though it should have been solved yesterday and worked diligently to remedy any issues that crossed his desk immediately. John’s wife, Jane was a phenomenal woman who pushed John to be a better man both at work and at home.

Jane noticed that John was taking calls well into the night and checking his email regularly once he got home. Jane was feeling neglected as his time was split between work and home when he was just supposed to be home. Jane asked John, “what is the emergency that is so important that you must answer you phone at 9:00 in the evening”? John proceeded to justify his answer with “this is business and I must respond immediately to insure no fires start on the horizon”. She said, “what can you possibly do right now that cannot be accomplished tomorrow morning”? John, flustered that his wife was questioning him fired back, “I must live in the moment and take advantage of every second of every day, this is what pays the bills you know!” His wife smiled and said, “okay honey” and went to bed as John continued to work through the night.

John resumed this behavior for a couple more months when Jane confronted John again. She asked John, how work was going and he proceeded to tell her how stressed out he was and unable to really accomplish anything. He continued to assert that he is living in the moment and just trying to accomplish as much as possible as quickly as possible, but it just wasn’t enough. Jane asked, “where is the fire that you must do everything now? Will the problems you face in the evening not still be there in the morning”? Jane further, stated: “just because something is perceived as urgent, does not mean it is so. Living in the moment means being present, physically present with attention that is not divided”.

John, who was defeated heeded his wife’s advice and set his email to where it did not notify him every time an email dropped. He also adjusted his phone to where only certain individuals could contact him after hours. Soon, John realized that his sense of urgency was fictitious. There was nothing to be done with the information he received in the evening. All it did was stress he and his family. Soon, John was able to make clearer decisions as he was no longer forced to act on the spot and was able to make the company more money and land bigger deals. He was able to shed the noise. He also was spending more quality time with his wife and kids. This further magnified his effectiveness at work. He walked into the office every morning clear headed, refreshed and truly capable of living in the moment.

What is your favorite day of the week?

-Justin A. Burger, MBA

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