I know I need to do it and it is something that I enjoy, it’s just that I’ve got into the habit of putting it off until the last possible moment but here’s the deadline so I best get started. Hang on. I’ll just put the kettle on first.
Procrastination. Never do today what you can put off until tomorrow.
We all do it, to a greater or lesser extent it seems to be part of human nature. We put stuff off and we have done it all our lives, from that instinctive reaction to being asked, ‘Jamie, will you go and tidy your room?’ to a reminder to fill in your tax return and, unfortunately, ‘In a minute, Mum’ just doesn’t cut any ice with HMRC.
It seems that the Internet is full of people worrying about it, wondering why we do it and suggesting ways of stopping doing it. One thing it seems that we want to do right here and right now is to talk about procrastination, or at least read about it.
There is a school of thought that the habit is becoming more common because our lives are so much busier than before and therefore we have no choice but to procrastinate. This may well be partially true, but I suspect that there were cavemen looking at jobs that needed doing while grunting the Neanderthal equivalent of, ‘Can’t we skin this Diplodocus tomorrow?’
Tomorrow is another day.
Time is always limited. None of us have so much that we can afford to waste it. In the words of the great Hunter S Thompson “Life is not a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and loudly proclaiming, ‘Wow what a ride!’
In our hectic lives it’s easy to put off spending time with the people who should be closest to us, our parents and our children, but if we keep delaying those moments its possible that we eventually look up and find the opportunity is gone, and that’s a tragedy.
The thief of time.
So why do we do it?
Technology is certainly working hard to provide distractions that consume our time but that can’t be the only reason, can it?
Fear of failure is one reason. If you don’t attempt something then you are guaranteed not to fail at it. In the same vein, perfectionism can encourage you to put off a job until you think you can do it perfectly. But isn’t a job done reasonably well better than one not done to perfection? I’ve certainly managed projects at work that have started out less than perfect but at least we had something that we could build on and they now make a significant contribution to the business.
Anyway, surely we should try and make the most of our time or, as a well-known brand of trainers used to say:
Just do it.
There might be changes and improvements that you want to make in your business such as changing to a better supplier and, there might be things that you want to make time for in your personal life. If putting stuff off is getting in the way of that, then here are some things that can help.
Forgive yourself. Don’t beat yourself up over the procrastination that you have done, just move on and get over it.
Change the words. Stop saying the something needs doing or it has to be done, say that you choose to do it or you want to.
Focus. Turn off the distractions. Nothing is going to change on Facebook and no new emails will arrive until you get this done. OK.
Worst things first. Get the thing that you dread most done first.
Celebrate. Reward yourself for getting that task done.
There’s no such thing as free time. In fact, it’s just about the most valuable thing that we have, so if we can stop wasting it and start spending it wisely then that would be pretty good, but what to spend it on?
From a business perspective it might be writing that email newsletter to all your customers, or it might be getting your website updated; they don’t last forever you know. Perhaps you should get up to speed with some of the new technologies in our industry or just tidy up the showroom. Just think how good you would feel if just one of those jobs were done.
For my part, I’m going to spend some valuable time a bit closer to home, spending it with my adult kids who now live further afield. It may not sound like much but getting them home together to go crabbing off the pier before a drink in our local will be a rich source of memories for years to come.
I’ll text them to arrange it. I’ll just put the kettle on first.