This Instagram post about the difference between “urgent” and “important” is a must-read

Nothing is really “urgent” at work, and this Instagram post perfectly explains why

If you’ve ever been on the receiving end of a barrage of emails titled URGENT (especially when they’re really not), you’ll relate to this epic Instagram clap-back against hustle culture.

Our work inboxes can feel a bit like the wild west sometimes. Between random junk newsletters we’ve long been meaning to unsubscribe to, to passive aggressive emails between our colleagues that make us want to tear our hair out in frustration. 

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But perhaps the worst of the workplace sins, claiming things are “urgent” when, let’s face it, they really aren’t, has now been called out – to much applause online – by this extremely relatable Instagram post.

Check it out here:

“People need to rethink the use of the word ‘urgent’. A lack of planning on your part, does not constitute an emergency on mine,” it reads. Mic drop, right?

The post was written by author and host of the Power Hour podcast, Adrienne Herbert, highlighting just how ridiculous our attitudes towards productivity and “getting things done” can be. 

Herbert captioned the post: “Seriously, the word ‘urgent’ means emergency and if it’s an emergency you should call 999 instead of emailing me.”

“I’m changing the signature of my email to say this,” one follower commented. “LOUDER FOR THE PEOPLE IN THE BACK!!” added another.

“I hate the use of urgent in the workplace unless you work in a hospital,” responded life coach and author of Burnt Out, Selina Barker. “That grid people love which divides things into urgent and important…it keeps people in a constant state of urgency which is no state to be in unless, like you say, it’s an ACTUAL emergency.”

The grid in question is in fact the urgent/important matrix, also termed Eisenhower’s urgent/important principle (so-called after the US president, nonetheless.)

The method defines important activities as those that have an outcome that leads to us achieving our goals, whether these are professional or personal.

The Eisenhower Decision Matrix
The Eisenhower Decision Matrix

Urgent activities, however, demand immediate attention, and are usually associated with achieving someone else’s goals. They are often the ones we concentrate on and they demand attention because the consequences of not dealing with them are immediate.

But the problem isn’t really the definition, but our interpretation of “urgent” and how we implement it. 

A recent UK-wide survey commissioned by The Out found that 70% of people in full-time employment have experienced burnout in the last 12 months. Unsurprisingly, with burnout levels constantly rising, our sometimes toxic workplace cultures and practices are constantly under the microscope.

So maybe it’s high time that we re-assessed our relationship with the word “urgent” – for our own sanity as much as the sake of our colleagues’.

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Images: Getty/Luxafor