Determining project urgency

Or how I learned to avoid unnecessary overwork

I’ve recently almost given myself burnout by working at an unsustainable pace on a project where I assumed high urgency and impact. In the end, it turned out that it wasn’t seen as urgent by the stakeholders. I’d like to share some insights that help with aligning with stakeholders’ expectations and understanding project priorities more accurately.

Strategies for determining project urgency

  • Seek input from knowledgeable colleagues: consulting those closely involved with the project is crucial. These individuals have a clear understanding of the timeline’s importance and the bigger picture.
  • Ask your manager about it: your manager should know about the urgency and impact of the project. If they’re unsure, it’s their responsibility to obtain the correct information.
  • Observe stakeholder behavior: The level of engagement from stakeholders can be a strong indicator of a project’s urgency. Frequent check-ins and discussions about timelines usually signify a tight deadline.
  • Consider the consequences of missed deadlines: Assess what would happen if the deadline is missed. If the impact is minimal, the deadline may not be as critical as perceived.
  • Check for customer commitments: figure out if there are any commitments to customers regarding project timelines.
  • Recall initial schedule reactions: when you first presented the project timeline, how did stakeholders react? Indifference or lack of urgency from them can be a sign that the timeline is not critical.


Had I used at least some of these strategies, I could have avoided a lot of unnecessary stress. Effective workload management and personal well-being are important values of mine and I believe that the above strategies significantly contribute to satisfying these values.

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