During this week I was following a LinkedIn discussion that went something like this…
“Procrastination – is it a blocker to goal achievement or a necessary part of the decision making toolkit?
I’ve been exploring procrastination as a behaviour trait, and thought I would ask for opinion from the group.
Is procrastination a behaviour trait that is negative? Do we want to reduce procrastination in individuals in the same way we want to reduce arrogance or inflexibility?
Or is it a benefit to the decision making process, in that it encourages considered thought time rather than rash decision making?”
So I wanted to share with you my two cents, not just with that group, but here where you can learn from it too…
I see a big difference between genuine procrastination and decision making.
Procrastination always comes from a place of fear or a lack of desire…. It’s very different to laziness.
When you procrastinate, there is a reason that you are not completing the task.
There are lots and lots of possible reasons why you might not want to complete the task:
– You can’t see the importance of the task
– You don’t believe that the outcome is valuable
– You have a fear of completing the task (Fear of rejection, fear of not being enough…)
– You have limiting beliefs around the task or the results it creates
– You’ve had a bad experience in the past
Procrastination isn’t part of the decision making process, it is the result of a very clear decision already being made – even if you are not consciously aware of the reason you made the decision.
Note: I don’t think of it as a “negative” behaviour trait. It happens for a reason, it’s just that normally most people don’t stop to full understand the reason.
So how do you cure procrastination…
Stop and ask yourself (out loud is best here)
Why haven’t I started that task yet?
What is stopping me?
What am I worried about?
Answer yourself out loud as well – yes, you’ll look a little crazy talking to yourself, but it becomes much more real when it is out loud.
And then ask yourself…
What would happen if I did that task?
What is the worst outcome possible?
What is the best outcome possible?
Why should I start that task RIGHT NOW?
And then start it… don’t get a coffee first, don’t “just finish” something else, start it – right there and then.
What is the one task that you have been procrastinating around, that you have put off for ages, that keeps getting pushed to the bottom of your to-do list?
Ask yourself why.
As an example: I find many people procrastinate about making sales calls, about getting on the phone and selling their services.
Why haven’t you started this task yet? “I’ve been too busy”
No, really! Why haven’t you started this task yet? “I don’t want to make sales calls”
What’s stopping you? What are you worried about? “I’ll come across sleazy. I don’t want people to not like me for “selling” to them? I’m worried they might get angry or aggressive towards me”
What is the worst thing that could happen? “They could yell at me”
Then what would you do? “ummm… put the phone down”
What is the best thing that could happen? “I would make a big sale”
Then what would you do? “Have money to pay the rent, put food on the table, and treat the kids”
…. So challenge yourself to start right now… just make one call… and if the worst thing happens, just put the phone down, you don’t have to deal with that – simple.
So your challenge for today… when you find yourself putting something off, or pushing it to the bottom of your to-do list, stop and ask yourself why.
Be honest with yourself, push yourself, and don’t take “i’m too busy” or “that can wait” as an answer.
And if you are brave enough, share with me here, tell me how it went.
Your ass kicking training buddy and tough love specialist,