No sense of urgency? — Here’s Why

A man in despair due to having no sense of urgency.

No sense of urgency? Here’s how to get your life back:


There’s a whole world out there, with so many things to do. But you (or your employees) just sit there and twiddle your thumbs. The next task is waiting, the next logical step on the big project has already presented itself. Yet, there is just no sense of urgency arising from the ether to go and get something done.


It’s a common problem, with more than one explanation reigning supreme to explain it. Here’s the ClockHug breakdown of what might be going on.


The Local Maxima Explanation

See these squiggly lines?


Of course you don't have a sense of urgency, you're at the local maxima!


See where you are? That’s the local maxima. It’s not the best spot to be in, but it sure isn’t the worst either. You probably want to be on the top of that sexy hill to the right, but can’t get over there.


It’s not laziness, it is comfort. You can reach great heights, but you’d have to go through hell and high water to get there.


Want your sense of urgency back but feeling comfortable now? Remove the scaffolding? Tear down the doors to the next great thing.


It’s easier said than done. If you’re in the local maxima spot, it might be time to rest on your laurels and embrace the present, because for the rest of us… well, it only gets worse from here.


Why do today what can be done tomorrow?

Churchill or Reagan or some president guy said this a long time ago. If I had a sense of urgency about anything, I’d bother to look it up myself, but here we are. Sitting down, reading a column. Likely doing nothing.


If you’re wondering why you personally have no sense of urgency, no drive to do what needs doing, just close this right now and go do the thing. Not think about doing the thing. Certainly not write down the thing that needs to be done, which disrupts your brain’s nagging about unfinished tasks. Just go do the thing if you can.


Looking to get your employees motivated? Maybe take tomorrow away from them. Not in a deadly sense of that phrase, mind you, but reiterate that tasks need to be done TODAY. Give checklists of things that need to be done before the employee leaves. Remind them why they are there. Even try respecting them if you’re in an off mood. Work fills the space given it. Reduce the space, improve the work.


Too Many Choices Leads to No Sense of Urgency

There is the paradox of choice, which causes stress when we have too many choices, not happiness. As humans, we think more choices equals more freedom, but sometimes we — like a child dependent upon its mother — prefer the right thing to just be handed to us.


Think about romance, for example. Get presented, suddenly, with two possible mates? Forget everything else. This is next level calculus. Your ape brain cannot handle it. Peaches and cream? You’ll never make the right choice. You just aren’t prepared for it.


And you step back outside of yourself. Take a look at the view. Peaches is giving you a kiss on the cheek. Cream is lightly stroking your thigh. Why even have a sense of urgency? Life is good. Let things… just be.


Oh, and, umm… I guess Amazon having too many wall clocks on sale can present the same kind of energy. The same kind of dilemma as… that. Above. Y-yes! Please follow ClockHug on Twitter so when the site is updated to show the best wall clocks you’ll be able to easily come back and choose one of the few selected here. You’ll have less choices and you’ll like… that’s just science!


Seriously, though, reduce your choices and analyze what you get. Use RNG, an algorithm, whatever, just give yourself less choices in life, but make the ones you make worthwhile.


The Thing is Hard

Monkey see, monkey don’t.


If the work is hard and you aren’t getting your heart rate up into a euphoric hop to go do it, rest easy: Harvard says you’re normal.


Using a lot of energy to do “pointless” tasks isn’t in our nature. That energy could be used for… mating? Look, nature is weird and stuff. The point is, if the thing is physically taxing you have to be really sure you want to do it.


There’s naturally no sense of urgency about doing physically strenuous tasks.


To overcome this, you have to put other factors into play. Animals have four sources of motivation:

  • Fear
  • Aggression
  • Instincts
  • A Learned Response


If you want to quit leaning and start cleaning, you actually have to have the willpower to learn the behavior. Willpower can be trained.


Or, burn all the bridges in your life and let raw fear do the rest. That’s science speaking.


You Know It’s the Last Time

Most of the last times of our life, we don’t know it is the last time. The last night you’ll wet the bed? Until you get very old, at the very least, that’s a complete mystery. Even when we set goals for ourselves — the last cigarette, the last beer — we can never truly know. Otherwise, it wouldn’t be a challenge.


Now, go back and think about a time when you knew it was the last time you were going to do/see something. If it was unpleasant (that job you hated, the one your boss wondered why you had no sense of urgency when it came to completing the tasks outlined) it was so easy. It was great. Otherwise, it may have been extremely difficult.


Extremely. Difficult.


I was a small child when my mother died. The last time I’d ever get to look at my own mother’s body, just 10 years old myself, you bet there was no sense of urgency for me to leave. Family pushed me on and that was it. Today, I can’t even remember the moment, just the push to leave.


There is no sense of urgency to push past final moments, because as creatures ultimately aware of our limited time on Earth, we are so aware of final moments. Any one of them could be ours.


Shamed Out of Enjoying the Moment



Get good grades.


Achieve some more.


Get a good job.


Do the next thing.


When is the moment to carve out for right now? Sure, “real life” is whatever the next step holds, but what about smelling the roses?


If family, bosses, some lover, or the Joneses are complaining that you have no sense of urgency, maybe that’s just their problem. You’re here to smell the roses today. The climb can wait until tomorrow.


A Poor Sense of Time

Finally, maybe a lack of urgency has less to do with any psychological factors and more just a general lack of awareness.


We know that cats have a sense of time, but don’t quite have the same developed sense ourselves due to the ease of access of clocks and timers.

Sometimes just getting a kick in the head that time is really moving is all it takes to boost our sense of urgency. Maybe all it takes is the occasional chime on the hour from a clock or stopwatch with a buzzer telling us that time is almost up. Whatever it is, sometimes we need a reminder that time is passing us by and deadlines are looming. When we’re in the know, we’ll get going no matter what.

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