What’s Your Favorite Day of the Week?

I’m not really sure how I’d answer that question. I tend to like all seven of them equally. I do hear some people say they hate Monday’s. I think that might have to do with their attitudes about their jobs more than their calendar preferences. 

I also hear some people say they love Fridays. That might say more about their job too, plus the fact that Friday gets them closer to their real favorite day of the week…Saturday. 

But whatever people say, when you watch them you see what their actual favorite day of the week is. For a whole lot of people their favorite day of the week is tomorrow. 

Tomorrow appears to be an absolutely fantastic day. It’s the best day to do almost anything. I hear people saying all the time, “I’ll do that tomorrow.” Sometimes they say, “I’ll finish that tomorrow.” The most popular of all is, “I’ll start that tomorrow.” 

Isn’t it interesting that tomorrow is both the best day to start something AND the best day to finish it. 

Tomorrow is truly a wonderful day!

Except for this one little bitty problem…tomorrow is not a day of the week. Tomorrow is not on your calendar. Tomorrow never actually happens because when you get to the next day of the week that day turns out to be today. 

The most successful people never allow tomorrow to be their favorite day of the week. Nothing kills the opportunity for success like waiting for tomorrow to implement a good idea. Once you’ve started something the best time to finish it is the earliest opportunity you have. 

Never finish tomorrow something you could finish today. 

Eliminate “tomorrow” from your vocabulary today. Just stop saying the word. The day after today has a date on the calendar…use the date. I’m going to do it on May 7th! Make the day after today real by being able to see it on your planning calendar. 

When somebody tells you “they will do it tomorrow” do them a favor by asking what’s the date for “tomorrow is on their calendar.” Help them hold themselves accountable by giving you a date, maybe even a time. 

You can hold yourself accountable in the same way. Use dates not days, especially don’t use days that you can’t find on a calendar. 

Tomorrow I’ll be giving away free money on Twitter to better illustrate what happens when you wait for tomorrow. I’ll see you then…or maybe the next day. 

Procrastination and It’s Cousin Fear

Procrastination hardly ever enters a person’s life by force. It’s most often invited in by it’s close cousin fear. That being the case perhaps the most effective way to end procrastination in your life is to stop being afraid. 

I’ve had lots of good excuses for procrastinating in my life. Didn’t know where to start. Didn’t have time to get started. Wasn’t going to have time to finish so why start at all. Had more important things to do. “Somebody” would be unhappy if I did it. Didn’t have money to do it. Didn’t know how to do it.

Most procrastinators have great excuses for not taking action. But they will seldom tell you the real reason. They won’t even tell themselves. 

The real reason is fear. The biggest reason I suppose is fear of failure. I can tell you that pretty much every time I’ve failed to take action that would have led to success it was because fear held me back. 

Every time I missed a sales goal it was because fear held me back. Fear of prospecting, fear of asking for the order, even fear of asking a customer basic questions. It probably never looked like fear to someone else, it most likely looked like your run of the mill procrastination. 

But fear was driving the procrastination. 

It was the same for trying new things, attempting something new. “Tomorrow” became a shield against the fear of not knowing how to start, not knowing how to avoid looking like a fool if something went wrong. 

I never really overcame procrastination, I kinda outlasted it. I’ve had enough success now that I don’t have to worry about failing. If I fail I can just shrug and move on. But here’s what I have learned through my success and failures…I could have always shrugged off the failures. I didn’t need a base of success to do that. 

And neither do you. Failure is a part of success and the sooner you get some failures under your belt the sooner you can stop worrying about it. Procrastination quickly loses it’s interest in people who don’t fear failure. 

Now yes, as some of you will point out, sometimes plain laziness leads to procrastination too. That is true but when compared to fear laziness is a distant relative. Fear and procrastination grew up together, they are inseparable, they can finish each other’s sentences. 

Eliminate fear and procrastination has no place to live in your life. You can do it, you only need to begin the focus on the potential for success rather than the unlikely failure. 

The sooner you try the sooner you’ll wonder why you ever procrastinated in the first place.

Try today! 

Tomorrow I’m going to…

Tomorrow I’m going to write a post about the dangers of procrastination. It will say something about how harmful procrastination is to your chances for success. I’ll probably write something about how procrastinating makes easy things hard and hard things almost impossible.

I could put some stuff in there about how to avoid procrastinating by doing immediately everything that takes less than 30 seconds to complete. People will be surprised when they learn that something like 90% of the things they procrastinate on take less than that 30 seconds to do. (It’s somewhere around 90% I’ll look up the exact percentage later)

I’ll think I’ll call it “the 30 second rule” and encourage people to try it for a solid week and see the difference it makes in their productivity. I don’t know, maybe I’ll save that for a post I do at some point in the future.

I’ll almost for sure put something in the procrastination post about a “Prioritized Daily Task List.” That’s like a do-to list except everything on it is prioritized in order of importance. Successful people use those all the time, like on a daily basis. (guess that’s how it got it’s name) They also don’t allow themselves to work on the second highest priority until the highest priority task is complete. 

That takes some pretty strong discipline which is another topic I should post about someday. 

I would write the procrastination post today except I’m really busy. There are a whole bunch of decisions I need to put off. I also need to come up with excuses for why I didn’t get yesterday’s work done and my fantasy football team needs work too. 

Plus, I’ve got to get to the gym. I’ve been putting that off too long and the last time I was there I left my brand new iPod Nano behind. I hope it’s in lost and found…they wouldn’t throw it away after only 14 years would they? 

I’m thinking I’ll close the post by reminding people that they won’t find “someday” on a calendar. They won’t actually find tomorrow either. 

I learned that whole tomorrow lesson thing by attending baseball games in my hometown in Minnesota. All the beer vendors wore t-shirts that said “free beer tomorrow.” I went to something like 18 games in a row until I finally figured out that if you always wait until tomorrow you’ll be waiting one heck of a long time. Alas, there would be no free beer for me. 

I can only hope people will read the post on procrastination as soon as they first see it but something tells me many of them will put it off until later. What they won’t be able to answer however is exactly when “later” is. 

 

I also hope you’re not one of those!

Last Second Sam

There are people who claim to believe that procrastination helps them be more successful. To them I would say that once you become comfortable misleading yourself you can, and most likely will, mislead anyone. 

 

Procrastination will kill your opportunity for success. Maybe not today and maybe not tomorrow but eventually it most definitely will. That much is certain!

 

People who believe procrastination helps them because they think better under pressure are not being honest with themselves. People who believe they are more productive when working under stress are fooling themselves. 

 

Approaching deadlines do not make people smarter, calmer, more productive or more logical. They make everything more challenging.

 

The real reason many people procrastinate is that they see low value in the task. It’s either not fun enough or they see no reward for doing it. Some people procrastinate because they do not have confidence in their ability to complete the task. Fear of failure is a driving force behind many a procrastinator’s behavior. 

 

For some people procrastination is part of their personality. They are just more impulsive than other people. These are the people I call last second Sam or last second Sally depending on…well you know what it depends on.

 

One of the most effective tools for overcoming the tendency to procrastinate is a Prioritized Daily Task List. A prioritized task list is a to-do list on steroids. You list all the things you need to accomplish on a given day but you list them in order of importance. You DO NOT do the second most important thing until the most important thing is accomplished. 

 

Don’t worry about working on one thing all day if it’s truly the most important or most productive thing you could do that day. You’ll still be better offer than if you spent the day doing a bunch of unimportant or unproductive things. 

 

Many procrastinators put off doing things that are quick and easy to do. They don’t see a lot of fun or reward in doing them so they just put it off. Answering an email is a good example. A quick answer might take only a minute but they still open and read the email several times before answering it. 

 

So here’s a good rule of thumb to help stop at least some procrastinating. If a task takes a minute or less to do then do it immediately. No delay, no hesitation, and NO PROCRASTINATING! You will be amazed at how many things you do in a day can be completed in under a minute. 

 

Don’t kid yourself into thinking being a last second Sam or Sally has one ounce of benefit. You will not find even one very successful person who will tell you their success is due to putting off until tomorrow what should have been done today. 


And you’re highly unlikely to be the first.


Stop Waiting and Start Doing

I once changed roles in a company I was working for and I had the opportunity to review the team I was leaving behind with their incoming leader. We talked about the strengths and weaknesses and how he could help each of them to continue to grow. 

When discussing a particular employee I made the comment that this person would do anything you asked them to do to the very best of their ability. That was their strength. Their weakness was that if you didn’t ask them to do anything then nothing is exactly what they would do. Nothing! The person completely lacked initiative. 

That’s a huge challenge for many people in the workplace today. They wait and wait to be told what to do. When they are told what to do they will need explicit instructions on when to start and how to do it. You may tell them to do something every Monday morning for a year but the first Monday morning you fail to tell them to do it do not be surprised when it doesn’t get done. 

There are lots of reasons some people lack initiative.

Some have what’s called Bounded Rationality. That’s a fancy way of saying they can’t even consider doing something they are not told to do. If it is something not entirely within their comfort zone they won’t even consider doing it unless they are explicitly directed to do it. They may not feel especially qualified to do it and unsure where to start. That’s an initiative killer too.

Some people are lazy. They expend the majority of their energy finding ways to NOT accomplish something. But as a leader you should know this: they were not born lazy. Somewhere along the way they lost their motivation and with it their initiative. Perhaps a former boss or teacher told them they would never succeed. Maybe someone told them they didn’t have what it takes to excel. Sadly they may have believed that.

If you have the audacity the call yourself a leader then never give up on someone who may be lazy today. Discover their motivators and help them find their initiative again. That is not a burden for an Authentic Leader, it is a challenge they enthusiastically accept. 

Some people who seem to lack initiative have learned that if they wait long enough to take action that someone, likely you, will come along to rescue them. Their lack of initiative is strategic. 

They know that you or someone else you assign will swoop in to get the work done. In these cases you as a leader are at least party responsible for their lack of initiative. You have taught them that they do not need to be accountable. You deny them the opportunity to learn and grow. You limit their opportunities to learn decision making and correcting mistakes they may have made. 

If they are thinking they cannot succeed you have solidified their thinking. That’s not effective leadership. 

Sometimes too much initiative can actually lead to what appears to be a lack of initiative. When a person says yes to more than they can handle they may become so overburdened that they don’t know where to begin…so they don’t. 

As a leader you must not allow your people to become so weighted down with work that they can’t maintain their forward momentum. When that happens most leaders wonder what happened to their former top performer. What they don’t realize is that what happened to them was inattentive leadership. 

If you’re not yet a leader but you want to be then you must make taking the initiative a habit. If you hope for greater success in the future then stop hoping and start taking the initiative. 

 

Make no mistake about this absolute fact: if you always wait for someone to tell you what to do you can be certain that someone will always be telling you what to do.

Today is the Best Day to Do It

The problem with doing something tomorrow is that when tomorrow comes it’s today. Then what will you do… push it to the tried and true tomorrow again? 

 

How many tomorrows does it take for tomorrow to become the day you actually take action? There are probably many people who can’t answer that question because they don’t know how many tomorrows it will take. They don’t know because they haven’t taken action yet. They are still counting tomorrows. 

 

Successful people will miss few opportunities today. Less than successful people will miss many opportunities tomorrow. 

 

For the record, someday, the perfect day, and the right day are just as bad as tomorrow. Today is the only someday for successful people. You can make today the perfect day, you can decide today is the right day. Yesterday’s tomorrow is today. 

 

You are out of excuses. 

 

You may not realize it but all that stuff you “plan” to do tomorrow weighs you down. It is a drag on today’s productivity. Each day you delay taking action on “tomorrow’s stuff” the weight becomes heavier and the drag greater. 

 

Here’s an idea: if something takes less than a minute to do then do it immediately. Do it right this second. You’ll be surprised how many things you put off that could be done in less than a minute. 

 

Most of the things we put off are not delayed due to a lack of time. We put them off because we don’t like doing them or they make us uncomfortable. We use time as an excuse. 

 

You should know that one of the biggest differentiators between successful people and less successful people is that successful people have developed the habits of doing the things that less successful people simply don’t like to do. 

 

Success is far more about possessing the discipline required to take action than it is about anything else. You can be the smartest person on earth but if you don’t use your brains what does it matter. Lack of initiative kills far more opportunities than lack of money. 

 

Do you have the discipline required to invest a handful of minutes a day to stop putting off those things you don’t want to do? Even the ones you know would make a positive difference for you?

 

When you start doing the things that require less than a minute pretty soon you’ll have enough momentum built up to tackle longer and tougher tasks. Before you know it, nothing can stop you. 


So what do you say? Got a minute to succeed? 

30 Seconds to Success

I’ve known many a procrastinator through the years (myself included) but I’ve known few people who were procrastinators by choice. They were all mostly procrastinators by chance.

 

Most procrastinators have more to do than they know how. They almost get paralyzed trying to figure out where to begin and the result is often that they just don’t…begin that is. They just don’t begin. They don’t get much finished because they don’t get much started. 

 

This much is certain, you will never finish what you never begin. 

 

So the first step to overcoming procrastination is to simply begin. But the question remains; where to begin.

 

Here is one piece of advice I received years ago that has really helped me overcome my procrastination tendencies: If you have something to do, anything to do, and it takes 30 seconds or less to do it then do it now, RIGHT NOW.

 

Now the best procrastinators out there will tell you that you can’t get anything done in 30 seconds or less. They would be wrong about that. 

 

30 seconds is actually quite a long time. 

 

In 30 seconds you can make a prioritized task list of the things you must accomplish today in order to be productive. Then you’ll know exactly where to begin.

 

In 30 seconds you can answer an email. If you don’t believe that then time yourself when answering a few. You’ll find that most, the vast majority in fact, take less than 30 seconds. Most people read the same email several times before finally answering it. That’s called procrastination and it’s a waste of time.

 

In 30 seconds you can delete about 60 emails from last year that you never did get around to answering. 

 

You can respond to several text messages or send one to someone, like mom or dad, that you’ve been meaning to send for a while. 

 

In 30 seconds you can set a meaningful goal. 

 

In 30 seconds you can pay a bill online.

 

In 30 seconds you can say thank you to someone you’ve intended to thank for days.

 

In 30 seconds you could pay someone a sincere compliment. 

 

In 30 seconds you could make a decision that changes your entire life.

 

You can do a lot in 30 seconds if you choose to be productive instead of busy and overwhelmed. 

 

It should take you substantially less than 30 seconds to decide which one will lead you towards greater success.