Do you ever procrastinate? Maybe you have an employee who procrastinates? Or a spouse and their honey-do list?
Procrastination is really fascinating one to me. I see procrastination happening everywhere: at the global level, at the city level, at corporate level, on my husband’s honey-do list and on my own honey-do list. One day, I noticed that I kept procrastinating a certain phone call.
I decided to measure what I was doing. I actually calculated how much time I spent every day moving this phone call on my Outlook calendar. How many of you have ever done that? This was fascinating to me that for a call that would take me 15-20 minutes of my life, I spent 45 days and a total of two hours and 15 minutes putting that call elsewhere on my calendar!
I was doing this automatically, like, “Oh, I’m busy today” and I’d just push it forward 24 hours. Procrastination allows us to avoid that feeling of something I’ve taught and talked about earlier.
Gulp…Swallow the Frog!
Let’s think back to empowerment #2 and making yourself do something uncomfortable every day. We procrastinate to avoid this discomfort; it feels great at the time. But, the bad news is that procrastinators don’t get very far. The good news is that I was in a class with one of my mentors. I asked, “What would you tell someone who keeps procrastinating and wants to stop?” He said, “Swallow the frog.”
The origin of this phrase is a famous author, Mark Twain. He said, “If it’s your job to eat a frog, it’s best to do it first thing in the morning. And if it’s your job to eat two frogs, it’s best to eat the biggest one first.” The frog is thing on your calendar you keep moving, the task on your to-do list that you keep avoiding.
What I’m going to recommend to you is a practice I call Procrastination Hour. In my family we take an hour on the weekend and do this procrastination hour for things around the house we’ve been avoiding all week. Each day, you can actually put a spot on your calendar to be Huck Finn for just 15 minutes. The only thing you get to do in that time slot is pick the top three things you’re procrastinating and take five minutes of action on each.
If you can set the golden time to do this for yourself, and then think about how this looks at a bigger level as you actually start setting this time aside in your employees, work schedules, your team’s work schedules. You’re going to see mountains move – it will have this big of an effect!
For a little bonus practice, the minute you try to move something around on your calendar and put it off, don’t let yourself move anything until you take five minutes of action on it. So it’s okay to move it as long as you first spend five minutes of focused on it and hopefully chipping away at it. Again, you’re going to be shocked at how much stuff doesn’t get procrastinated anymore. Because really it’s the mind’s trick. It’s not yours.