It’s not caused by :
- The phone ringing and it’s your mum (no offence mums) who then proceeds to chat for an hour
- The neighbour who pops in and must just tell you about the weekend’s events or the new dress
- Or the school run which ends up with an un scheduled coffee morning with other mums – who could resist?
- It’s caused by YOU!
This is procrastination and in my English course at school so many years ago you wouldn’t want to know, we learnt a saying for English Language GCE, (never mind what that is – it’s an exam).
Procrastination is the thief of time.
This saying stuck with me throughout my corporate career and served me very well. It also serves me so well now that I commend it to you. Write it out on a sheet of paper, put it on your home office space wall and learn it every day.
What does it mean really?
Well the literal translation is that you should not put off till tomorrow what you can do today.
In reality it means that you should not find excuses to miss your daily task objectives.
Now don’t get me wrong – I can be a master at doing this – believe me it is so easy.
Example – you have a great lunch, maybe a glass or two of wine and then you planned to settle down to write that blog or post or page. After the lunch it is the LAST thing you feel like doing because the meal is happily giving you that contented feeling, if you had wine it may well be making you feel sleepy and you know add to this the fact you had a busy morning at the shops and it’s definitely a recipe for a snooze isn’t it?
Well if you do that you won’t get round to doing that article and all the other tasks you had planned for the afternoon will you (remember you have been out at the shops all morning).
So those tasks you planned for this afternoon become the opening tasks for tomorrow do they?
If they do then my school time saying is operating at full blast. This is because the time you did not use to work this afternoon cannot be reclaimed. Even if you work tonight you are still playing catch up, and you rarely do if ever manage to catch up. Time is precious and in terms of a work plan it is outrageously precious because think of it this way. If you had written that article this afternoon and published it then the public domain would see it earlier and you would gain any reward that much earlier. Work at home time is money.
So how do we manage to get round this problem?
Four possible ways:
- Plan your daily work tasks for when you work best. I work best first thing in the morning, and afternoons from 15.00 to 20.00
- If you know lunch is going to be a detriment to working later then delay it and complete the task before hand. We often do this and lunch is served when my morning tasks and most of the afternoon ones are completed.
- When you are compiling the daily to do list, whether it’s on paper or in your mind then mark those tasks which must be done today and do those first.
- Find ways of sneaking in that extra bit of work while doing something else. I love watching tennis but there is an awful lot of time in a match which is not play. In fact most of the time the players aren’t playing. I found that I had two choices
a) watch all the match or
b) just the time when the play is happening.
Guess what – option (a) is a form of procrastination and
option (b) is great use of time (15 emails, 35 posts read in a two hour match – wow).
In reality there is no guaranteed way of avoiding procrastination completely, we are humans after all. What I am suggesting here though is that there are ways of avoiding most of it.
Two major advantages are:
a) You will feel so good when you look back and realise that you have not wasted the time and achieved more work than you thought and
b) Think of the benefit in terms of earning or even learning time versus not doing anything – no contest really is there.
Yours in business
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