Do you teach time management? I’ve put things off until the last minute for a long time. It’s become a cross I’d rather not bear.
Yes, I do. I’m glad you wrote. Your question signals that the cons of procrastination outweigh the pros for you these days, so it’s a good time to revise. Let’s not label your habit as “bad,” because it does work for some people.
Who, you may ask, does procrastination serve? For those who embrace risk and crave excitement, pressure to perform in the 11th hour is a natural high. Is that you? If so, find new rewards to replace the rush of racing to finish. Procrastination is tough to alter if it brings success. Pull an all-nighter and score an A on the exam? It solidifies your process. Write a presentation the night before, then knock ’em dead, and you increase the likelihood of a repeat performance.
Humans tend to procrastinate unpleasant or difficult tasks. Sometimes we’re unsure how to begin. We might fear failure or be perfectionistic. When we lack interest in a project or aren’t happy that a task is assigned to us, we put it off.
An employee told me years ago that my procrastination on keynote presentations was stressing her out, even though she played a small part in the process…the last part. How selfish of me, not thinking about how my timing affected her. I won’t forget that conversation. A client hypothesized once that I planned to arrive just before our meeting “to make an entrance.” Ouch. Reflecting on my behavior led me to research how personality affects time management. Turns out optimists try to achieve more in shorter periods of time than pessimists (or “realists,” as my buddy Jeff likes to say). That struck a chord with me. Does it with you? Underestimating how long tasks will take and neglecting to plan for the unexpected is literally risky business.
I suggest you do some reflective writing. What undesirable outcomes result when you put things off? How does or could this habit negatively affect you and others? What benefits come from starting and finishing earlier? Could you take a small first step now? List your roles and describe how you want to be remembered. What goals do those definitions dictate? Can you see your plan? Get all your commitments visible on one page and assign A-B-C priorities.
Go ahead and 1-2-3 your A-B-C’s if you wish.
When executive coaching clients complete this stress-reducer, we call it a Brain Dump. To-do lists are executed in sync with your overarching goals. You enjoy your day more fully as you complete tasks in order of importance, delaying or delegating what isn’t vital.
Time is a gift. No matter one’s station in life, each of us has 168 hours per week. Small changes in behavior can net big results. Best wishes, and please stay in touch.
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