The brilliance of calm urgency

Today has been fun.  I was rushing about from one person to the next, attempting to set up an urgent meeting between extremely busy people.

I wouldn’t usually consider that as fun.  And it wasn’t easy, but – with a little help from my friends – I did it.

This was only one of my tasks for the day.  The backwards and forwards was taking place at speed, causing change every few minutes.  Despite that, I still had to complete my daily tasks and respond to new jobs, phone calls, and so on, as the day went on.

In a rush, but so calm and flowing too... (photo by vgm8383)

Still doesn’t sound much fun, eh?  But as I walked back up the stairs for about the millionth time (give or take a few…), it became apparent to me that I felt serene; I was calm; I was happy.  Yet this peace was coming through my sense of urgency and it even helped boost my productivity.  When I stopped for a moment to assess how much I had achieved in the day so far, I realised that many other tasks had been completed that I would usually expect to take longer.  And this all happened while I was busy with a more pressing task.

You have probably felt this at times yourself.  When you have a sense of urgency about what you’re doing, the brain seems to kick in to a higher gear that you’d forgotten existed.  All the while, you feel refreshed, taking everything in your stride.

I call this ‘calm urgency’.  You know something needs to be done and you know it’s important, so you crack on with it without complaining, whilst looking for new options and answers as you carry on.

Bear in mind that I wasn’t multitasking.  I don’t think multitasking truly helps.  But in the moments where I was waiting for someone to get back to me, I still worked with a focused, energetic, and urgent approach.

Don’t confuse urgency with stress and overwork.  The importance of my situation filled me with a drive to get that work done.  Having renewed drive and vigour is what I like.  However, if I had felt downhearted about the task, or was unhappy to be given such a difficult problem to solve, that’s when stress would have kicked in.

I believe it’s easy to have either feeling.  I have groaned at jobs that looked frustratingly difficult when I arrived at it fresh.  But with an open mind and a few moments to study my own strengths and weaknesses, as well as the pros and cons of the job at hand, I could muster up enormous drive.  This was regardless of how much I wanted to do the job.

Spend less time thinking about the bother of the job itself and just get on with it.  The more you let the inconvenience of a task weigh you down, the more time you waste and the longer it takes for you to get going.  Procrastination, here we come!

When it comes to any type of work in the student context, the answer is often in the willingness you have to complete that work.  Push yourself into creating some drive so that you can deliver over and above what even you would expect of yourself.  Then recognise the importance of what you are doing…this is going toward your degree (and your future) after all.  With that sense of calm urgency, you can often work better AND in less time.  It’s a no-brainer.

Sure, you can’t act with ‘calm urgency’ every day of your life, but there’s no need to anyway.  It’s best to use it when you need to push through a block that is stopping you from working effectively.  Can you think of a time when this would have helped?

When have you experienced a ‘calm urgency’?  Have you pushed yourself to overcome difficult situations with a great positivity and drive?


  1. Recently, I have been experiencing this type of “calm urgency” with exams and graduation coming up plus whole bag of other things to do. It definitely keep me going and if I complete everything at hand, there is always that nice sense of accomplishment at the end of the day. Sometimes, I need to cautious to ensure that the balance does not shift severely towards urgency because the leads to horrid stress and ultimately, procrastination. I can feel the calm urgency running through my veins right now!


  2. There’s a fine line between the rush of goodness and the force of stress. What’s on our side is that it’s easy to stop and reflect on the situation. If you’ve crossed that line, it’s time to ease back into the gentle (yet urgent) flow.

    It goes wrong when you don’t stop to reflect. As I mentioned in the post, I was walking back to my office and I stopped to reflect. I regularly do this kind of thing as it opens up many thoughts and ideas.

    So one of the keys to walking the fine line is to be aware and listen to yourself. The mind and body are surprisingly good at telling us what’s best for us.

  3. Now that you mention it, I really love the results of this feeling, too. I love collapsing, exhausted, at the end of the day and being able to number off things I’ve finally marked off my “to-do” list–its very satisfying.

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