Are you a master procrastinator?
by Richard Tidswell Mar 05 2018
Do you find that all well-planned intentions to work in an organised, structured way to deliver important goals and deadlines will sometimes get interrupted by the ‘instant gratification monkey’?
This TedTalks dives into the mind of a master procrastinator:
Perhaps you set out at the start of the day with that important to-do list, yet when you get to the evening you find that the list still looks the same or has actually grown a bit?
If so, you might be allowing your ‘monkey’ to gravitate you towards the ‘easy and fun’ tasks – those activities that you are good at doing and enjoy, but which might not necessarily be aligned to the things that need doing.
If left unchecked, you might catch yourself spending too much time on these ‘occupational hobbies’.
Of course, everyone just wants to do what they’re good at and enjoy, but when your workload is already high, and you have many other urgent tasks on your to-do list with other important ones constantly being added, it builds anxiousness. You can’t concentrate, so to escape from the stress everything seems to start distracting you. In all, we have too much to do, in too little time.
So, how can you beat this stress, and deliver the things that are essential and critical to the success of your business?
A great starting point is recognising that you cannot manage time, only the things you choose to do in the time available.
As motivational speaker Brian Tracy once said:
“There is never enough time to do everything, but there is always enough time to do the most important thing.”
Another person who could help is former US President Dwight D. Eisenhower. His “urgent/important principle” helps you to consider your priorities and determine which of your activities are important, as well as those that are, essentially, distractions.
During a speech in 1954, Eisenhower was said to have been inspired by the then president of Northwestern University, Dr J. Roscoe Miller, when he quoted:
“I have two kinds of problems: the urgent and the important. The urgent are not important, and the important are never urgent.”
He described this comment as the basis for the “Eisenhower Principle”, which the President would use to organise his priorities and executive workload.
A solid starting point is to distinguish between the two types of activities:
Important activities are those that help us to achieve our goals, whether business or personal. This, of course, means that we need to have first identified exactly what our goals and aspirations are. This makes it important to ‘know your why’ (https://www.businessdoctors.co.uk/ditch-the-business-plan#demoTab1)
Urgent activities are those that demand your immediate attention. Often, these are pressures being driven by someone else’s goals and priorities. Due to the urgency, these tend to be the tasks we concentrate on, leading us to become increasingly reactive
Once we are clear on which activities are urgent and those that are important, we can learn to stop doing the unimportant urgent tasks and instead build in time for the important activities. This will lead us to become less reactive, reducing the ‘firefighting’, and enabling us to start working more on the business and our own personal development, and less in it every day.
Focus on the important, not urgent
Focusing on the important tasks rather than the urgent activities requires us to actively build in time to do so, and then being disciplined about protecting that allocation and not allowing other things to creep into it.
To create the time, we need to manage the other three boxes:
Important & urgent
- Minimise last-minute panics by planning ahead, avoiding procrastination, and not leaving things to the last minute
- Build some time into your diary to act as ‘contingency’ in order to handle unexpected issues that may arise
Not important but urgent
- Try to reschedule or delegate, as these are ‘time drainers’
- They come with a big opportunity cost, this being the important things that you could have been doing with your time
Not important and not urgent
- These are just distractions, so avoid them if you can
- Learn to say “no” and reserve these tasks for the moments when they allow you some escape. This can reward you for completing the ‘important, not urgent’ activities!
“Time should be valued and treated as the limited resource it is. Through prioritising and planning, time management becomes an integral part of day-to-day activities.”
- Susan Stovall, author