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FV and FVP Forum > Created Urgency

I'm a long-tim lurker. I know many time management resources and techniques but I have to say that all the techniques presented and discussed here belong to the most advanced available, they target underlying psychological dynamics of work and ambition better than anything I used before. I use a slightly modded version of RVP myself, it works well and it's def. the best time management system I've ever used—I could write just about the efficiency of RVP a long post.

But I'd like to focus on something different. Two weeks ago there was an incident which boosted my productivity tremendously. Again, I'm usually super productive with my modded RVP: I prioritize the high impact issues, I rarely procrastinate and heavily delegate stuff but still this incident skyrocketed my productivity even more.

For this post I try to abstract the incident, not just to keep it confidential, rather to understand what ingredients are needed to get into such an super-productive state.

The best name I came up and which reflects its essence is 'Created Urgency'. We know that urgent stuff is always the frontrunner in our mind, even if it's not important, urgency always wins and moves itself to the number one position replacing the important stuff. So, maybe there is way to create urgency yourself for super important stuff.

What I did (in an abstract form):
1. I committed myself to an event in the distant future (2 weeks ahead) with an uncertain outcome
2. I committed significant money
3. I let peers know of these commitment with the risk of loosing reputation in case I fail
=> I created myself a point of no return, after all this I couldn't go back, a bit fear, panic and uncertainty came in but that was good because I was on, for two weeks—non-stop.

More abstract.
1. I committed to a deadline
2. I put in money
3. I let friends/colleagues know about it

Even more abstract or just different—I created three risks:
1. One-shot risk: after the deadline I can't go back and if I failed it's over (regarding this opportunity), hit or miss risk
2. Risk that after the deadline I lost money
3. Risk that after the deadline I lost reputation

While I write this lines I realize how hard it is to create a generic system without giving concrete examples but the relevant ingredients for Created Urgency are:

- Risk
- Commitment
- Reputation
- Peers
- Time/deadline
- Point of no return

Basically (I just realize when reading my lines again):

It's a long-term timeboxing model with a heavy money, reputation penalty

Besides, I used all the time my modded RVP but more as an organization tool.
January 28, 2016 at 12:01 | Unregistered Commenterwhiteswitch


You might find Beeminder would fit what you are proposing very nicely.
January 28, 2016 at 15:36 | Registered CommenterMark Forster
@ whiteswitch

Are you making these commitments repeatedly? Or has a single commitment raised your productivity recently?

What you've written is pretty clear, but it would be nice to know what you've done more concretely - with details withheld or altered to protect confidentiality, of course.
January 28, 2016 at 16:54 | Unregistered CommenterChris Cooper
Thanks for sharing Beeminder, I skimmed the product a few times in the past and yes it goes in a similar direction but I could imagine that setting goals, enforcing and deciding about penalties could be tricky and moreover feels too made-up. Should I doing ten todos and if not does then the penality kick in? Or I do have a qualitative goal—what if I miss it just slightly and at the end I still can just say, c'mon, I almost accomplished the goal and keep the money. I like the basic idea but not sure if it'll work for qualitative tasks, yes for loosing weight and number-based goals. However, I should try before judging or anybody who tried Beeminder likes to share their experiences. I did a similar thing with my SO for a common goal, we put money in but still it felt too made up and at the end we just kept the money.

It was a single commitment and it was not planned, so my findings came in hindsight.

But let's try to create up an example. I take one not from my domain and I guess there will be many wrong assumptions (about the industry) but you should get the idea. and one which is very extreme. Let's say you are an average screen-writer and you have here and there small gigs. Your big dream is—of course—writing the script for a blockbuster movie. You have this great idea, you wrote some 2-30 pages already but it's not polished, not in a shape to be presented. Your daily stuff is too urgent and pushes important things like this out of your sight. You have kind of a network but not really powerful, you don't not the big guys.

Let's look at your options:
A) Finish and polish the script and send it out (no urgency and tons of work ahead)
B) Create a perfect exposé/teaser and send it out (no urgency and still some work and your perfectionism and daily distractions will keep you away of the doing 'perfect teaser')
C) Just send an email to many studios/producers and tease in three lines your story (the email is easy, but you have to create the lead list, find the email addresses, get introductions and you think you have only one shot, maybe you should do the teaser or better the book before approaching anyone and you are back to B or A)

Let's now project my findings on this hypothetical case with the 4th option...

D) Just do nothing, do not do anything. Not A, not B and not C. Do not fill you todo list with all the issues mentioned above.

Just go high risk.

- Book a flight to LA (or a hub where you have a high density of studios/producers) for two weeks
- Book an expensive Airbnb or Hotel there for two weeks where you can't cancel anymore the booking

Now, you wasted at least $2000-$4000 in a few minutes (this exactly is what I did)

... without having anything
... without having a single appointment
... without having a book, a teaser nor an email
... without having a lead list with at least 100 leads
... without having a strong network there


If you tell this you friends or your colleagues or your subordinates, they think you are nuts. You will think yourself, wtf how should I get any appointment there? The competition is so fierce and I am a mediocre writer with a weak track record, a non-existent network. Nobody is waiting for my stupid script. WTF, you will think. $4000 for nothing and my peers will laugh.

Then you journey starts. You will do EVERYTHING to not fail and I promise you will work your ass off the next two weeks, hyper-productive, hyper-focussed and prioritizing and delegating like a pro. You can't go back. You can't not attend the flight. Now, you have it—Created Urgency. Your time management system will get you organizer but it does not need to motivate and push you anymore. Your new pushes you to the limit.

And at the end the outcome will be good, maybe you won't land the blockbuster contract but maybe you come back with 10 new contacts and a major gig from a bigger studio. And a finished script. And a finished teaser. And a finished email teaser. And a lead list with 500 contacts (because you extended it heavily, once you were there you said to yourself, now can also approach all). And you reactivated your network, told people from you plan, you got into the conversation. And you have now everything to tweak your pitch and go on. After the trip you wil sayl, 'I invested so much in this script, I won't give up and you keep pitching until I find a producer, without realizing you plan your go back to D) and book your next travel

Hope that example helped. Without committing and creating a point of no return all the tasks you need to get to your final goal done seem like too much and even if you are disciplined, it can take you forever without creating this pressure.

Finally, this Created Urgency must feel real and match your mission, it must be an essential part of it, otherwise you won't take it seriously.
January 28, 2016 at 21:11 | Unregistered Commenterswitchwhite