Why Easy Trumps Urgent if You Want Someone To Act

29th April, 2021

Why Easy Trumps Urgent if You Want Someone To Act

Today I am procrastinating.


I’ve got one of those ‘worst of all worlds’ tasks.


It’s dull and detailed.


And even worse, it’s urgent and important.


But am I doing it?


Oh no. I’m writing about it to you instead.


I’m rearranging my marker pens in rainbow order.


Replying to every email in my inbox since time began.


Anything but gather together all the reams of information I need.


(We’re leasing a new car and they seem to want to know what I had for breakfast three years ago and where I was when the Spice Girls broke up. Gah.)


So. Much. Information.


And whilst I know it’s vital I get this done (our existing car conked out a week ago and our hire car is costing a small fortune every day), I’m furiously resisting the tedious trawl through various paper files and online archives.


It just feels too hard.


So what’s the lesson here?


Well, typing URGENT in angry red capitals in your email subject line might not make a blind bit of difference.


If we want to get someone to do something, we just need to make it easier than other stuff on their plate to boost it up their priority list.


Even if your request is important to you but not to your recipient, you can get them to act just by taking the pain out of the process.


So write emails that can be answered with a simple yes or no.

Break down big hairy tasks into bitesize steps.

Offer specific times and dates for meetings.


Whatever you do, make it easy.


Because easy trumps urgent or important every time.

University of Cambridge


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