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Overcoming Procrastination

November 04, 2017

Every so often, I post something on social media that is “supposedly” funny. Last week , I posted this right here...

This was immediately after taking one liter of coffee – I have a 1 liter mug I use for this purpose. Anyway, someone saw this on my Instagram and followed me to my inbox and just said this; “Liz, I’m a procrastinator. HELP!!”

I looked at that statement right there and jokingly told him, “Hey, you misread the word. It is Procaffinating not procrastinating!” Thankfully, he got the joke and didn’t take my response as an insult.

So this got me thinking about what he had said and I realized he is not the only one who does this. Everyone of us does procrastinate every now and again, even if it is only in small “negligible” situations.

Later on I got in touch with him and had a lengthy conversation with him about his procrastination tendencies. One of the questions I remember asking him is how long he has had this problem. ( I kinda felt like a shrink).

Anyway, in a nutshell, he said all his adult life. He confessed to have missed great opportunities that would have changed his life because of procrastination; he missed an opportunity to marry the girl of his dreams because he kept putting off the idea of asking her out (because of fear) and by the time he finally gathered enough courage to ask her out, she was already engaged to someone else and was getting married 3 months down the line. He also said he had some goals he had set for himself at the beginning of this year but since he knew he had 12 months to go, he never really did much and now suddenly he has realized he is on the 11th month of the year yet he has nothing to show for this year. This last part is what made him reach out.

I know he is not the only looking back right now and thinking, “Jeez! We are in November and my 2017 to-do list is untouched! What am I going to do?” 

The sad thing about procrastination is that it STEALS from you without your knowledge. Like Edward Young said, procrastination is a thief of time! 

You see, there are three characteristics of time that if we all took note of we would avoid procrastination at all cost. These are:

1. Time never stops, never slows down, is always moving.

2. Once it’s gone, it’s gone forever.

3. Therefore, time is the one resource that can never be replaced.

So, what stops you from 'getting things done?' How do you stop this habit?

I’d like to share a short real-life story/scenario I read on http://www.boxingscene.com/,  of someone who sought the help of a professional to help him stop procrastination.  The professional had this to say/write about procrastination and what he advised his client, Bill, to do. Here goes....

Have you ever started your day with good intentions of completing a task or project only to find that by the end of the day you've hardly worked on it? Or have you ever set a goal to attend a seminar, learn a new skill or just have more time out for you?

I'm sure you have. I'm not going to write a long-winded explanation about the art of procrastination or "putting things off" but what I will do is share with you the secret of actually "getting things done”, putting an end to procrastination and just getting on with it.

I believe most people overload themselves with too many unimportant tasks or commitments, which in the scheme of their day or life is really of little benefit.

Our society is so conditioned to "being busy". If you ask a colleague or friend "How are you?", generally they answer "I'm busy/flat-out/snowed-under", even on weekends! But what are they "busy/flat-out/snowed-under" doing?

"Being busy" can be totally different to "being productive".

Bill's story

Bill, a friend of mine is an extremely intelligent and creative person. He's "flat-out" in his role as the Marketing Manager for a large manufacturing company. Having observed Bill in his working environment, he constantly allows everyone and anyone to interrupt him. He believes in the "open door" policy. He allows the day to evolve rather than planning what he wants to achieve. Bill's office looks like a bomb-site so he consequently wastes immeasurable amounts of time searching for paperwork.

Bill has just turned forty - the 'mid-life' crisis decade. He's married with two children 8 and 10 years old whom he loves dearly. Unfortunately due to his work commitments he does not spend as much time with them as he wants to. He 'used to be' fit but now he's on the pudgy side. His excuse for not exercising is "I don't have the time". Starting work by 8.00 a.m. and finishing around 7.00 p.m. Who would have the time?

Bill is like many people I know who don't realize there is a better way.

Bill called me a few weeks ago. He'd decided he'd had enough of "never having time" and wants to get organized for living his life. (Prior to this, I used to offer unsolicited advice but he took no notice).

So, how did Bill stop his procrastination and "just did it?" This is what happened:

  1. Bill cleaned out the clutter from his original "bombsite".
  2. We devised simple systems tailored to Bill's creative personality to cope with the mountains of paperwork.
  3. Now that Bill has systems he has been able to identify tasks which he can delegate to others.
  4. We've worked out simple and easy to implement strategies for coping with interruptions. The "open door" is sometimes closed.
  5. Bill now uses a diary (that's right he never used one before) writes a daily list of things to do and scribbles all his notes in it. No more scraps of paper.
  6. We worked out where Bill spends his time and prepared a weekly timetable so that he can work in a more structured way and get more done. Structuring included allocating specific times of the week for certain tasks, rather than letting them build up to unmanageable levels.
  7. Time for himself was also factored in.
  8. He now gets up at 6.00 a.m. and goes to the gym near his home 4 mornings a week, has breakfast there and then blasts off to work. Those of you who exercise first thing in the morning know what I mean.
  9. Bill's now eating more nutritious food. Instead of the unhealthy restaurant food he will often have his lunchtime meetings in a "trendy café" where he can choose what he eats.
  10. The last time I spoke to Bill he said he had reduced his working hours. He was leaving the office by 6.00 p.m. the latest and was feeling so good he is considering training to compete in his gym's mini-triathlon.

How's that for stopping the procrastination and "just doing it". You can too, you know. We often know what to do, even how to do it.

All you need to do make a decision to stop your procrastination and take action today.

Can anyone identify with Bill? The clutter, the overwhelming activities that keep you busy but not productive, the burn-out at the end of the day, anyone identify with all that?

The beauty of the solution they got is that the ten-steps they came up with are so easy to apply in our own lives that some people might ignore them simply because of how simple they are. I bet Ben now has time for a 3rd child.... Anyway, I digress.

So, the next time you are tempted to procrastinate I’d like you to consider the following:

  1. If you spend money, you can always get it back.
  2. If you expend energy, you can usually replenish it.
  3. But all of Bill Gates’s billions, Mark Zuckerbergs’s billions and Warren Buffet’s billions all put together CANNOT buy one minute of yesterday.

What have you been telling yourself you’ll do when you “have more time?

What have you been putting off for “someday”? Speaking of someday, are you aware someday is not a day of the week? It doesn’t go Someday, Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday..... No. Someday is a lazy man’s way of saying, “I won’t do it!”

Listen, if you are waiting for when you will have more time for you to get something done, I have some BREAKING NEWS for you:

  1. You’ll never have more time than you have right now.
  2. There is no time when you’ll have more time.
  3. Time simply IS time.
  4. You either USE it or SPEND it.

And this last sentence is what separates highly successful people from non-successful people; what they do with their time.

So, before I sign out today I’d like to leave you with some “homework”.

  1. Write 3 things you have been putting off in your life… your relationships… your business... your studies... etc.
  2. Write 3 reasons you’ve been putting them off.
  3. Write 3 reasons why you MUST stop procrastinating them.
  4. Plan how you’ll get them done like Bill did and just get them done.

If you need help, I am just an email, a tweet or a message away. Like I mentioned earlier, today’s post was inspired by a message someone sent to me, so when you send me your thoughts or your queries, you can rest assured I will address them personally.

Speaking of email, Eric, I received your email in relation to last week’s article, and I answered your question by doing a short video which I have uploaded on my Youtube channel so others can also benefit from it. Just go to Youtube and search for Liz H. Wachuka, and while at it, don’t forget to subscribe to the channel and share it with your networks.

Remember, procrastination is a thief of time. Put in all the necessary measures to stop your time from being stolen.

Be Ignited. Be Inspired. Be Influenced. Become the best version of yourself you can ever be.


PS: This article was originally published in Tanzania's Guardian On Sunday on the 5th November, 2017, under my weekly column "Thoughts in Words". 





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