Tomorrow Never Comes by Paul Butler
Why do we tend to procrastinate? I am not a psychologist but I find it so interesting that the vast majority of people I ask when teaching seminars, webinars; when delivering a keynote address, or during executive coaching assignments gladly admit to a strong tendency to procrastinate. Come on be honest, I am sure you (just like the rest of us) can think of times when you dragged our feet or left something to the last minute.
Procrastination is a self-management issue that impacts others. Just imagine the organizational ramifications of someone, (say a supervisor), who tends to procrastinate – at minimum, they will be influencing mediocrity, and worst-case scenario, they will definitely lose high-potential talent who get frustrated with not getting it done!
There's a lot of common-sense wisdom out there on tips and techniques to overcome procrastination (as well tips and techniques to influence those whose work you depend on to not procrastinate either). It's worth reviewing some of the best of these because we know common sense is just not commonly practiced!
If you're a morning person, hit the hard tasks in the morning when your energy is optimal. Obviously if you're an afternoon person, do the opposite. If you're neither, maybe you ought to consider night security as a career.
If you get your energy from people, carve out time to get the input of others to avoid inertia on the tough assignment – hey, you may be able to engage help from others who become keen to help you because you've asked their opinion. If people drain your energy, be sure to carve out some quiet, undisturbed time on a regular basis to get the assignment done.
Break the project down into bite-sized chunks and ask yourself every day, "What are the 1 to 3 things I could get done today to move this forward?" Analyze the assignment to identify what sections can be completed in parallel (A, D, and E at the same time), rather than looking at everything linear (A then B then C, etc.).
Set yourself (and maybe others) tighter deadlines to get sub-tasks done to be able to have some wiggle room towards the end of the project to ensure you have quality time to review before submission or to allow for unforeseen problems.
Remember great leaders have a reputation for getting things done. I’ve taught in 28 states in the U.S., China, India and 4 countries in Western Europe, and to this day I still haven’t found anyone who says they are impressed by people who are always late or busy, who don't do what they say they're going to do when they say they're going to do it, or are full of excuses why they missed a deadline!
Here's a thought: have you noticed how many people appear to get their identity, or sense of self-importance and value by their busyness? I have seen this especially over the last few years with the economy being how it was and to some extent, still is.
It's almost as if some people in today's downsized, globally competitive, technologically enhanced, fast-moving workplace want to create lots of frenetic motion and as much noise around them as possible. They want to be seen as rushing from one meeting to another, giving the impression of being overwhelmed with their emails, schedule, and task list. Why? It's as if the mindset is: "I have to look crazy busy because if I am not crazy busy I might get laid off!"
Is that really an effective way of leading? Is that really a supervisor you would like to work for? Rather like pebbles in a pond, can you see how that mindset and those behavioral tendencies would ripple out into other aspects of their life – as a spouse, partner, parent, friend, son, daughter, neighbor, or community member? Maybe it just doesn't have to be this way.
My experience and observation is that leaders who lead in a completely different manner become talent magnets. They become someone others want to work for. People who work in a calm, intentional, and present manner tend to make better people to be around and don't we all want to enjoy the people we work with? Isn’t it better to work with men and women of high character and high competence? Wouldn’t we rather return home knowing we've done a good day's work and have enough energy to be fully present with the ones we love? Isn't that why we work?
Yes, our work matters but what really matters is who we are while doing that work and who we are when we get home. For some of us, or all of us at one time or another, this would be turning over a new leaf.
Paul Butler, Client Partner, Newleaf Training and Development
(661) 877 6833