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.

Your 2013 To-Do List

images 2I’m a big fan of to-do lists. There is no better tool to use when you’re looking to fool yourself into thinking that you’ve been productive.

I still like to-do lists but I simply can’t afford the time to use them anymore, I have to be productive. You see, I used to put all kinds of stuff on my to-do list: wash the car, pay the bills, make a tee time, call back an unhappy customer, you know, all the stuff that takes up our day.

Each morning I’d look over my list and get “busy.” What do you suppose I did first? Yep, I got that tee time set up and I felt plenty good about it. I’d get the car washed and almost felt like celebrating cause half my to-do list was already complete.

However there was a little something else on my to-do list. It was apparently important because I wrote it down but it wasn’t any more important than my tee time, it was just another task on my list. That’s the best thing about a to-do list, it allows us to avoid doing the things we don’t like to do (calling back an unhappy customer, for instance) in favor of doing the things we do like. The bonus is that at the end of the day we can look at our list and “see” how busy we have really been. It can be very fulfilling. It can also be very misleading.

The most successful people understand the vast difference between being merely busy and being truly productive.

Productive people rarely use to-do lists, instead they use a tool called a Prioritized Daily Task List. A Prioritized Daily Task List is simple to develop but a serious challenge to use. It will take discipline and more discipline to use it well. If you have the willpower to make it work for you then you’ll accomplish more in a day than you ever thought possible.

Here’s how it works; write down all the tasks that you must accomplish for any given day. Next, prioritize them in order of importance. You can use number one through whatever or use letters instead, the important thing is to be honest and realistic. Understand the difference between what must be done and what would be nice to get done.

Now, here’s the hard part: don’t allow yourself to move to letter “b” until letter “a” is complete. Don’t even think about “b” until “a” is complete. Nothing relating to “b” should be in site until “a” is complete. No matter how much you don’t want to do “a” and how much you do want to do “b” finish “a” before starting “b.”

Some tasks will take multiple days to complete and in those cases simply break the larger tasks into smaller pieces and do parts of it each day and do it first if it’s the most important task to accomplish that day.

A Prioritized Daily Task List will make a difference for you in 2013, I’m certain of it. I’m also pretty certain what should be “1” or “A” on your very first Prioritized Task List of 2013.

Develop a Prioritized DO NOT DO Task List for 2013. Your success in 2013 will be influenced by two factors, one of course is what you do. They other, and equally important factor is what you don’t do.

We all have “time wasters” in our lives; stuff, and maybe people, that just suck our time away. They usually add nothing or very little to our lives, all they do is decrease our productivity and maybe our enjoyment of life.

Invest some time determining what the “time wasters” are in your life and make a Prioritized List (the biggest time waster should be your top priority) and eliminate them in order of importance.

Keep your Prioritized DO NOT DO List close by throughout 2013, some of those “time wasters” may try to creep their way back into our day and you might need to remind yourself from time to time how they made your list in the first place.

One more thought… these are YOUR lists, they should help you reach YOUR goals. What someone else sees as unimportant you may decide for YOUR reasons is very important. In cases like that always remember this: YOU win! It’s your list, they are your goals and it’s your life.

Live it the way you want! To heck with the naysayers!