We do this all the time: an email comes in and we feel obligated to respond right away. Then, we get another request we feel we need to act on immediately, or a client requests a meeting that same day.
Sometimes these situations truly are urgent. But other times we may just be treating them that way out of habit. So, the next time you find yourself in one of these scenarios, take a deep breath, and make a list of everything you have to do. Then, prioritize each item as now or later. When in doubt, either ask for a deadline or see if it’s possible to push it back. (Spoiler: People are more likely to say “yes, of course” if you explain why.) While some deadlines are fixed, others are arbitrary. Chances are that your to-do list is really less urgent that it seems.