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.

Read this Today!

We have a minor league baseball in my home city, (NO Yankees fans, I’m not talking about the Twins) called the St. Paul Saints. It’s owned by Mike Veeck, son of Hall Of Famer, Bill Veeck, who planted the famous (or infamous?) ivy at Wrigley Field. His co-owner is Bill Murray, yes, that Bill Murray.

The motto at the ballpark is “Fun is Good” and whether you’re a baseball fan or not, you’ll find something to enjoy at every game. There is a lot of “stuff” going on between innings, massages from nuns and a few years ago even haircuts in the stands. 

The beer vendors all wear bright colored t-shirts which advertise “Free Beer Tomorrow.” Now before you start planning your summer trip to St. Paul for baseball and free beer remember this: the free beer is tomorrow. As a matter of fact, the free beer is ALWAYS tomorrow. 

I can only imagine the utter disappointment of the first time fan who returns the following day to discover that they must wait another day for tomorrow to come.

Here’s the amazing thing about tomorrow, it never actually arrives. You’ll never see it on a calendar and nothing ever gets done tomorrow. 

Successful people do things today. They schedule their activities only on days that end in “y” not “w.” Successful people don’t think in terms of tomorrow or someday, (you won’t find someday on a calendar either) they think of specific days whose names and dates are on a calendar. 

Tomorrow is a put off, it is a delaying tactic used by people without enough commitment or ambition to succeed. Tomorrow is a long way off, it’s years away for some people. The day after tomorrow is even worse. 

If you hope to truly accomplish anything important then don’t wait, do it today, do it now and be on your way to success. 

The Dangers of Procrastinating

The most successful people seldom procrastinate. If something needs to be done today then today is the day they will do it.

Procrastinators tend to work from behind, always trying to catch up because of the too many times they did the easy thing rather than the necessary thing. Successful people have developed the skills and discipline required to avoid procrastinating and because of that they tend to work from the front. They always look to be a step ahead and because of that they accomplish more with less stress on their lives.

Think about that for a minute. Procrastinators accomplish less and have more stress. People who don’t procrastinate accomplish more and have less stress. 

So why would anyone procrastinate? I guess we all have our individual reasons. I can tell you I seldom put off doing the things I like or the easy things in life. It’s the challenging stuff, often the most important stuff, that I put off.

But I’ve found ways to limit my procrastinating. Here is a couple of ideas that might help you do the same:

Set goals that matter! It’s amazing what the average person can accomplish when they really want something. It’s almost a certainty that if you don’t have goals that matter to you then you are not as productive as you could be. You most likely use procrastination to keep yourself from doing things that matter to other people but not to you. 

Balance is a key to avoiding procrastinating. Without balance in your life the hard jobs get harder. Work can only “matter” for so long and if you’re only working because you have to work then the hard jobs soon become nearly impossible. So set goals in all areas of your life, not only work related areas.

Reward Yourself! When you accomplish something worthwhile, especially something challenging that you may have been putting off, then reward yourself. Give yourself a little treat, just make sure that the “little treat” doesn’t include putting off another challenging task.

The most successful people procrastinate far less then the average person.  They do the hard jobs first. In fact, they do the hardest job, the thing they least want to do, before they do anything else. They subscribe to Brian Tracy’s theory that once you accomplish the hard job, everything else becomes easier to do. 

If, at any particular point in time, you’re not doing the most productive thing you can be doing then you’re not doing the thing you should be doing. You might just be procrastinating.

Success waits for no one. If you can do “it” today, then make today the day you do “it.”