Yesterday I went off to church feeling really good about my haircut and the spring air. There was this spring to my steps, I had also just recovered from a little discomfort in my thigh. For some reason I was happy and my steps had a bounce to them. I even got the contact of that girl I had always been eying in church. I ended my procrastination and got the girl. Don’t tell me you only go to church for the hymns!
I first thought it was the haircut but later realized it was not. Earlier in the weekend I found my on-line course “Business Metrics for Data-Driven Companies” had commenced and I had just a day to submit my first quiz. The last thing I did before sleeping on Saturday night was to open up the course page and go to bed. I woke up and started out on the course immediately till I completed my quiz. That achievement of a goal set my day on a very productive path and I felt good or even better about my haircut and my cheap T-Shirt.
One of the biggest dents to your knight armor is procrastination; consequently feeling unproductive. The less productive you think your day has been, the worse the mental picture you have about yourself. A lot of us spend a large part of our time doing things that we know deep down are not the most economically productive things we could be doing. We keep shoving those big tasks away why?
A few reasons I can think of:
1. It’s Ugly:
Think of the Lagos rat, the elephant beetle or the frog. These are simply mental illustrations of some of the worst tasks you could have in your day. Brian Tracy used the frog analogy in his book “Eat that frog.” I also came across a lot of references to the “elephant beetle” by Kirsty O’Callaghan. There was even this post I saw written by Tifanny, she had a dream about the elephant beetle. This scary dream had practically led her to solving her procrastination habit. I had to think of something Nigerians can relate to, so I thought of the Lagos Rat. One of the biggest triggers of procrastination is that life in itself is rarely roses and candy.
Most of the things that would bring you the success you need are the ugly tasks you have for the day, week, month or year. Using the Pareto rule, I dare say 20 percent of what you should do in a day are ugly tasks and these ugly tasks constitute eighty percent of the success you will have.
There are always so many things calling for your attention and you will achieve very little if you keep trying to do everything. I saw a Forbes article refer to this as “Multitasking.” The quote by Liesa Taylor advises you to stop trying to multi-task. This part of the article did not sit well with me. I also think not every influential person has the right perspective to problem solving, you have to be careful while reading those anti-procrastination quotes compiled by Forbes. Multitasking is a rare skill that a lot of people would pay good money to learn and I consider myself one of the few people who has mastered this skill or habit. This tells a lot in the way I respond to writing requests and also social activities. I have been able to monitor several social accounts at the same time and still satisfy my clients.
The problem is not multi tasking, the problem is an inability to focus on one single task per moment in time. You must be able to have a clear focus on one task per moment of your time if you are going to beat procrastination. Understand that time cost is a factor of measuring how successful you will be at your daily task. If you are an employee that costs so much to your company, you should be thinking of how best to employ some of these ideas to your time management practice. It could save your job.
when you lack clarity on what is most important to you, there is a lot of chance that you would procrastinate. As I have explained earlier, most of us do a lot of things that are not relevant to our goals and objectives. Maybe we have not even clarified or set any goals. This could be the reason you are procrastinating. Maybe you do not know how that “Lagos rat” fits into your overall goal as an individual. You do not see this as an opportunity to be more productive and achieve success.
a lot of us push things away because we always think that things have to be perfect before we take action. Brian Tracy says in his book -it’s far better to take action on an averagely laid out plan than take none on a perfect plan- We have been taught to avoid average results, so we wait for the perfect moment, and we do nothing. There is never going to be a perfect time, place, person or team. Just do something, anything. I have continued to review some of the things I achieved through writing. This assessment makes me fear that I may not be doing a perfect job. I have written books that sometimes make me feel I could have done better. Meanwhile, you should still get my books, they have helped my friends. I have hardly gotten the perfect team to work with, I keep letting some people off while bringing others on. Working with writing teams have shown me that life is all about hypothesis.
In the business metric course I am taking on Coursera, one of the things we were taught about optimizing profitability is A/B testing. You are expected to offer different options of your most likely profitable prices, then see which one sells more. Life is full of uncertainties and without much data, it could be frightening to start anything at all. The first way to know what’s perfect is to try out all the best options you have on any given task. Then see which one gives you the best results.
If you have allowed any of the points from 1-4 to affect you, then the chances are that you are afraid of doing anything significant. The fear of failure sets in when you are a Perfectionist, Lack clarity, Focus on distractions and can’t embrace the fact that life is full of ugly “Lagos rats” on your way to success.
How can you Beat Procrastination?
First I will recommend you check through some of the posts I have referenced because they have tackled this extensively. Also I have downloaded a copy of Brian Tracy’s “Eat that frog.” His thoughts are succinct, the chapters are straight to the point. The ideas in Tracy’s book should get you pumped up and active. You should download it too.
Here is my strategy for beating procrastination:
1. Work with a list:
This is something I do a lot. I have a diary for almost every year, and I feel it up with ideas and notes to myself. It helps me clarify my most important tasks and also shows me some life goals I set. Perspective is what you get from a list. How best can I do the best task I need to do for my best possible outcome?
2. Take action:
Every minutes spent doing nothing is time wasted. Find out one simple task you can accomplish within the time and circumstances you find yourself. There are tasks I complete on a bus ride, like posting stories on my social network or tweeting. While I have to get to an office or my room to work on my research.
3. Share your stories:
The quiz I almost missed was part of one post I made a night or two before. The thought just struck me, I had celebrated getting a financial aid for that course but not started classes. It’s a good thing I shared that news with my friends. In a way put my goal of running the course out there. In fact one of the best practices encouraged for e-learning is that students should share their journey with their social networks as it ensures they would more likely finish the course. So celebrate your tasks and achievements by sharing some of your stories with your friends. This also ensures that they hold you accountable.
What’s Your Strategy?
Okay, I am sure my list of strategies are probably not exhaustive or the best. I think you may have some important bit of experience to share with people. Quickly try this task in the comment section; tell me what you think you have been procrastinating about. How you plan to beat the habit this week? Maybe you don’t procrastinate, you can also tell me why you think you don’t procrastinate. I would really love to hear from you.