I am a procrastinator. Let’s face it…most of us deal with procrastination for tasks we don’t like to do.
For me I don’t procrastinate on the more immediate to-dos, or tasks related to my friends and family. Yet I do find myself avoiding some longer-term projects. It’s those things that take dedicated time, intense focus, and hard thinking on complex issues. This kind of work is hard to fit into the flow of my days, and it requires new habits for me to achieve my desired results.
Prepping to say a few words at a Board meeting? No problem. Getting ready to coach a CEO in a one-on-one session? I jump right in. But sitting and doing heads-down strategic analysis on an important decision - it’s tough to begin.
For me, writing, deep strategic analysis, and long term financial planning all fall in Covey’s Quadrant 2 – important, but most of the time, not urgent. You may have trouble with deep heads-down work, too, or maybe you procrastinate on administrative tasks, preparing presentations, or making cold calls. What we have in common is that we have difficulty keeping our focus on certain important activities and doing them consistently.
Procrastination is essentially a bad habit. But it’s a habit we can change.
Here are three tactics to combat it.
1. Always start with the purpose - the why of what you’re doing. For me personally, I help move leaders and companies to their next level of personal fulfillment and performance. The joy of seeing a life change or the satisfaction of seeing a company grow gives me the energy to stick with the heavy lifting.
What’s your guiding star? Do you reflect on it regularly? What daily, weekly, or life-long habit will it take to get you there?
2. Declare your intent. A very successful executive told me how helpful it was to declare his intent that a school he sends his children to would be “off the grid” through solar and wind energy in twelve months. The statement of intent solidified in his and everyone else’s mind what the far-reaching goal was. There was no room for procrastination or hiding. They were going to make it happen.
What in your mind do you need to “declare out loud” with clear intent?
3. Enlist collaborators. Heavy lifting is not meant to be done in isolation. We need people to encourage, challenge, and come along side. A leader will get clear on the biggest challenge facing the business, declare an intent to change, enlist key collaborators who can help, and then set up clear milestones for progress and measurement. Do not go it alone with the bigger challenge. Let people know what you are doing and invite their accountability and participation.
What major task do you want to take on?
How will it benefit others?
Have you said out loud your clear intent?
Whose help will you need for encouragement and positive energy?
Now - let’s get started!