3 Questions for Procrastinators

Time is valuable and we waste a lot of it.

I will admit to being an offender. I am an expert at putting off items on my “to do” list that rank low on my fun scale. As with everyone else, motivation is linked to interest and both wane quickly when a mundane task comes up.

When my brain flat out refuses to pull everything together like a teenager struggling to get out of bed on Monday morning, I like to ask myself three questions to figure out why there’s a problem:

Are you afraid something else requires your attention?
Resist the temptation to confuse this with having something you would rather do. We all have that problem and it’s simply a matter of finishing the task at hand regardless of the strain necessary.

This question asks you to understand the priorities of your business and/or life. Do you have to pay bills? Is it bath time for your child? Your project has to fit around and between these events. Fill the remaining time with work towards your goal. Regardless of whether it’s organizing a few notes or pounding out several hundred words, you’ll feel better to have accomplished something.

Are you afraid to start?
Any undertaking, regardless of size or novelty, brings a certain amount of jitters. It’s natural to feel a little overwhelmed and wonder if you know what you’re getting yourself into.

“How long will it take?”

As long as it takes.

“Will it be difficult?”

Yes, you’ll get bogged down or feel lost sometimes.

“What if I don’t finish?”

You’ll never know unless you start. Break the task into manageable chunks and it will be completed before you know it.

Are you afraid to finish?
We have a tendency to think that we must do things perfectly instead of doing them well.  We hesitate to make a move for fear of being found out, having the world learn we’re some sort of fraud that actually knows little.

Think someone will call you out as a pretender? I’ve got news for you: you are. You’ll have to spend a lot of time acting like you know a lot until you actually do. In sports, they have another word for it: practice. It’s how anyone becomes elite at anything.

In idling when you could be building momentum, you make things exponentially more difficult for yourself.

You may be worrying about the nature of the outcome, whether  positive (“Will it get too big too fast?”) or negative (“What if it dies on the operating table?”). Perhaps you feel it has to be perfect before you let anyone see it. Instead of putting something out there for people to get their eyes and hands on, you hunch over your work bench–if you visit it at all–in the quest for the flawless article you believe fail-proof.

Knock it off.

Such a product–if it could even exist–is a recipe for failure. Something that never requires improvement can only be sold once…as opposed to something that’s “good enough to start,” which can be refined and upgraded to include things beyond conception when it was initially offered. Think of the old computers that only used floppy disks or cars that came without air conditioning.

Continued innovation leads to greater success.

The ability to adapt and improve is the basis for perpetual survival. In the animal kingdom and business world, natural selection determines what works best, what must be kept and what must be shed. That’s why we call lumbering behemoths of industry lagging behind the push of technology “dinosaurs.”

What are you waiting for? Why not take a step even if it’s only a little one?


Believing in Possibility

Muhammad Ali – “Impossible is nothing.”

4 Rules for Inspiration


5 Responses to “3 Questions for Procrastinators”

  1. 1 Pam Steciuk March 11, 2010 at 11:48 pm

    Great post Dr. Ike. Got me thinking more about this whole procrastination issue. From what you have written in addition to the post I wrote the other day, I should be leaving this nasty “cling-on” in the dust – waving bye bye to it in my rear view mirror! Keep up the great posts – you’re an inspiration!

    • 2 Jason Eichacker March 12, 2010 at 3:44 am

      Thanks, Pam! I know I often get overwhelmed by stuff when I face it the first time and I honestly believe that’s what makes me procrastinate. My brain says, “Oh, that’s a lot of stuff” and instead of seeing the possibility of breaking it into chunks at first, it decides to wait.

      Understanding is the first step to rehabilitation, though. 🙂

  2. 3 Glen March 12, 2010 at 1:21 am

    Thought-provoking post. Thanks, Jason. I’m going to have to re-read this one a few times. Very helpful.

    • 4 Jason Eichacker March 12, 2010 at 3:41 am

      I really appreciate the compliment, Glen and hope you’re able to put it to good use. I’ve found I’m more able to make a go of things when I attempt to understand why I’m putting them off.

  1. 1 uberVU - social comments Trackback on March 11, 2010 at 9:40 pm
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