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.


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.


The Truest Secret to Success

There are many factors that come into play when determining a person’s potential for success. Those factors vary depending upon the type of endeavor the person is trying to succeed at. There are some commonalities across all fields of endeavor but each one has their own set of unique requirements.

There is however one sure way to greatly limit your chance at success. It makes no difference what your trying to succeed at, this one thing will almost certainly limit your chances at success if not outright kill them.

This one thing is called procrastination. 

Procrastination prevents even the most accomplished people from reaching their potential. It is simply amazing how quickly, and consistently procrastinating will kill your chances for success.

Research shows that a leading cause of procrastination is a lack of passion. It’s pretty simple really, we do the things we like to do and look for reasons to put off those things we don’t like doing.

The research shows that people who make decisions and take action quickly are more successful and wealthier than people who procrastinate. There are very very few exceptions where a chronic procrastinator has been able to overcome that handicap and still have huge success. Those exceptions in fact are so rare that it’s safe to say that procrastination not just might, but absolutely WILL damage your chances for success.

Procrastination limits every area of a person’s life, from business relationships to personal relationships. It limits the trust that other people will put in you and even limits the trust you’ll have for yourself. 

Every person hears the beckoning call of procrastination but highly successful people have learned to drown out the noise through planning and hard work.

One tool many people use to try and overcome their propensity to procrastinate is a to-do list. I’ve tried that but a simply to-do list is no match for my procrastination abilities. So I use a Prioritized Daily Task List. This is a to-do list on steroids. I rank everything I want to get done on a particular day by order of it’s importance. I do not allow myself to move from my highest ranked task to a lower ranked task until the higher ranked one is completed. That requires discipline.

Discipline, for those of you who believe you don’t have any, comes from wanting something in the future more than the something you want today. To develop discipline you simply have to identify what those things are that you want in the future. When you keep those things in the top of your mind it becomes much easier to have discipline.

I have one other “rule” I use to overcome procrastination. It’s my 30 second rule. It too is pretty simple, if something takes less than 30 seconds to do then do it NOW. You’ll be surprised how many of the things you put off actually take less than 30 seconds, it just seems like they take forever because you endlessly put them off.

Those 30 seconds can be the difference between your success and settling for less than you want and deserve. You probably won’t like this but here is a fact: if you can’t find 30 seconds in your day to accomplish something important then you can’t succeed. You probably don’t deserve to either.

The truest of all the secrets to success is to stop procrastinating. Don’t stop tomorrow, stop today and understand that anything else you can do today should be done today. 

“Do it today” is the mantra of all truly successful people! So, what are you doing today?

 

Understanding Success – Part Four

Successful people get it. They simply understand some things that less successful people seem to have a hard time grasping. The things they understand are the “it’s” of success. 

This is the fourth post of a pretty long series on those “it’s.” They will be short posts, each just long enough to give you time to focus on one “it” of success until the next post arrives. I’m not locked in on just how long this series will go, it could turn out to be as many as six or even eight posts.

Because successful people are willing to ask for help they are able to get more accomplished than less successful people. Another reason that successful people get more done is because they understand the difference between procrastination and patience. 

They know that the perfect time to act seldom comes so they take action as soon as they can, whether the timing is perfect or not.

Successful people have seen how easy it is for “later” to become “never” so they don’t delay. They know there is no “someday” on a calendar, there is no “free” time in their schedule, and the less they do today the more they will have to do tomorrow. 

If you’re a habitual procrastinator then you should know this absolute fact: procrastination will kill your chances for success, if not today then tomorrow for sure. The best time to do anything is at the first opportunity you have to do it. 

Many people procrastinate simply because they don’t know what to do next so here is some life changing advice…. when you don’t know what to do just do the next right thing. No matter how small that “thing” might be you’ll have made some progress and built some momentum. Momentum creates more momentum. 

Some of you will say that you don’t know the next “right thing” to do but in all likelihood you really do. Never use “I don’t know” as an excuse to not take action. Successful people who really “don’t know” find someone who does and they ask them. Once they know they take action, immediately.

If you’re struggling with procrastination then try this simply adjustment in when you do things. If something takes less than 30 seconds to complete then do it immediately. For instance, if an email can be answered in a sentence or two then answer it immediately, don’t let it linger in your inbox, don’t open and read it several times with the intention of responding “later” because there will likely be something else more demanding of your attention later. That by the way is exactly how later turns into never.

Reject the “patience” excuse for not taking action. If you can do something now then now is the best time to do it. Realize that putting things off is seldom patience, it’s nearly always procrastination and procrastination is nearly always bad. 

Focus on what you can do right now and then do it….right now!

 

Procrastinators Have Too Much Patience

Successful people know the difference between procrastination and patience. One simply wastes time and one provides the opportunity to think, reflect, plan, and adjust. 

Patience can be productive, procrastination can’t. If procrastination doesn’t kill your chances for success today then it most certainly will tomorrow or perhaps the next day. But it will get you sooner or later.

Despite popular opinion procrastination is not only a lazy person’s problem. Some very busy people struggle with it too. In fact, one of the very reasons they struggle with it is the fact they are too busy. They attempt to do more than is possible and overload their calendars day in and day out. Their calendars  get so full they have no idea where to start, so they frequently don’t actually get started. 

There has never been a time in history when more “tools” were available to help with the scourge of procrastination. You likely have one of those tools in your pocket… or your hand, this very moment. Yes, the very thing that “helps” us procrastinate, our smartphone, can help us stop. 

There are 100’s of apps available to help us be more productive. I’ve tried many of them but my current app of choice is the native “reminders” app on my iphone. It syncs with my laptop and iPad so I have pings and dings and little red numbers popping up all over. It’s annoying but it also has really helped.

I avoid any app that looks like a simple to-do list. I don’t know a single highly productive person that would go near a to-do list. If you use a to-do list and you think you’re highly productive then  I would tell you you’ll be much more productive when you ditch that liar of a tool. 

I call a to-do list a liar because it fools us into thinking that our “busyness” is the same as productivity. We check something off a to-do list and feel good about getting something done. The question is, should we have done it at all. Maybe and maybe not.

I highly recommend any app that allows you to create a Daily Prioritized Task List. This takes your to-do list to a whole new level. You now do things in order of their importance. That requires thought on how you will use your limited hours in a day. You must decide which of the many things you have “to-do” will provide you the biggest payback and force yourself to follow the prioritization. It may even require you to stop doing some less productive things.

Of course there are a couple of problems with all these apps: I can simply turn off my smartphone (highly unlikely) or just choose to ignore it. (highly likely) I’d bet most people reading this are a lot like me.

That’s why the very best tool to help you with your procrastinating tendencies is a tool that’s been around forever. The “tool” is called a mentor. These days some people call it a coach. 

No one climbs a mountain without a climbing partner and for many people climbing a mountain would be easier than overcoming procrastination. So find a coach or mentor and ask them to help you climb the mountain of procrastination. Share your prioritized daily task list and ask them to hold you accountable to tackle each task in order of it’s importance. 

Virtually every person I’ve ever met could accomplish more than they thought they could and virtually every person I’ve met needed someone to help them do it. The right mentor will remind you of the vast difference between procrastination and patience and never allow you to substitute busy for productive. 

Apps are great but they still can’t replace interaction with a human that has the capacity to care enough about you to truly hold you accountable. I hope they never will.