Everyone knows procrastination is a time-waster. The problem is it is a habit, and like most habits it is hard to change. A person who procrastinates may be well-intentioned, and promises to take action "some day." "Someday" is that elusive day between Saturday and Sunday that never arrives. Here are four tips to cure procrastination:
#1: Do the most feared task at the beginning of the day. Mark Twain said “Eat a live frog first thing in the morning and nothing worse will happen to you the rest of the day.” If that is making cold calls or dealing with an employee termination, or whatever causes the most mental anguish, deal with it first. A lot of mental energy is expended in dread and fear, most of which is unfounded.
#2: Set clear goals. Some goals do not meet the SMART guidelines – specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time-bound. It has been said that a goal without a deadline is a dream. Understand that the mind, the lower part of the brain, is the oldest part and naturally wants to put things off as a security mechanism. A goal that stretches a person outside the “comfort zone” is seen as a threat because it causes a physical uneasiness. This part of the brain tries to avoid the pain by delaying action in the present moment. A goal with a deadline forces the issue and logically can help motivate a person to act.
#3: Take action. Inertia, movement, do something. The Sandler Rule “It’s how you act that determines how you feel” seems counter-intuitive. Yet, Amy Cuddy’s Harvard study has shown that even your body language shapes who you are. Will the person who wants to get in shape ever feel like going to the gym to work out? That’s not likely. If the person goes to the gym and works out, he or she will feel better, and be more likely to continue. The salesperson’s reluctance to make calls can be conceptual or technical. If the technical part is resolved (knowing what to say and how to say it), then getting past the fear of failure or success on the call is the “head trash” and belief-change is needed, followed by doing the behavior.
#4: Prioritize the “to do” list. Procrastination usually sets in as a pattern when the amount of tasks are overwhelming. Good time management starts with a few principles. Cull the “to do” list to those tasks that can only be done by yourself. Work on “pay time” activities (those that generate revenue) during hours when your prospects/clients are available to be reached. Delegate or hire someone to do tasks that are necessary but generate less revenue than your time is worth. Rank your remaining “to do” list with A, B, C – A must be done today, B can wait until tomorrow, and C can wait until next week – and only work on the A list today. Most procrastination happens on the “non-urgent but important” activities when those are the very items than need to be given priority.
Call to Action: If you would like to find out more on overcoming procrastination, register now to attend the next Sandler workshop luncheon with Jim or call 678-690-5279.