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Procrastination: the handbrake of life

I’ll never forget my Dad receiving a particular Xmas gift sometime in the early ’80’s.

He was given this red, round plastic disc, called ‘a Round-Tuit’.  It looked similar to this pic and it sat there on his Study shelf for years, always seemed to get a laugh and also start a conversation.   

We’ve all heard ourselves say, at one time or another, “Yeah, yeah, when I get around to it.  Give me a break ok?” 

However, sometimes, we really do need reminding.

It was only as I got older that I truly began recognising the (potentially debilitating) power of procrastination, the simplicity of what the word means and how to (try and) beat it or at least meet it. 

Only last year, our son, who was um’ing and argh’ing about what to do for a school speech topic, had his (other) Granddad ultimately say, “How about doing it on Procrastination then?”. 

So, some of the following content is credited to our son and his research, in order to put something coherent together.  I hope that it’s of interest to you. 

The definition of Procrastination
“The action of delaying or postponing something, deriving from the Latin word ‘pro’ meaning forward and ‘crastinus’ meaning belonging to tomorrow.”
Therefore, procrastination means a putting off from day to day. 

The 4 different types of procrastinators (as noted on alphaefficiency.com) 

  1. The Anxious Procrastinator: where you end up trying to fit in way too much work into your already busy day and never get around to having fun, rest and reflection. 
  2. The Fun Procrastinator: where you’d rather be doing anything that’s fun and excites you vs completing your task(s), so you put some of the ‘work stuff’ to the bottom of the list. 
  3. The Plenty of Time Procrastinator: where you wait until the very last minute to complete your task(s), because you feel that you need a time limit to truly motivate you. 
  4. The Perfectionist Procrastinator: where you never quite finish, as you feel that whatever you’re doing can always be done better – so you just keep at it, at the expense of other potentially more important things.

Do you recognise yourself in one or even a few of those loose descriptions?  

But is it always a bad thing to be a procrastinator?
Evidently, Mozart used to make changes to his music just before going on stage…however his music is still enjoyed hundreds of years later, around the world.
Furthermore, evidently Leonardo Da Vinci took 16 years to complete the Mona Lisa…not a bad end result for those millions of people who have viewed his 77cm x 53cm Masterpiece. 

You could argue though….
At the same time, some historians believe that the 146m high x 230 m wide Pyramids of Giza took just 10 years to build block by block, so there was no mucking around there! 

There is a tangible downside to us practising regular procrastination…
Not finishing or even not getting to the start line with what we need to (or should) get done, can create endless stress and a sense of feeling overwhelmed.  However, it’s something that we can all overcome to some degree, to allow us to move forward, closer to our goals and a sense of satisfaction, achievement and finally stepping off that hamster wheel. 

Let’s be honest, we’d probably prefer not to procrastinate if we could. 

Luckily it turns out that there are a couple of pretty simple solutions
To ensure that we do start making inroads to getting everything done that we need to within a reasonable timeframe and still ensure that we get to enjoy life and have fun, we simply need to summon the courage to act. Online studies have shown that making a list is a great idea.  So, very simply, an Action Plan or To Do List which includes all the things you must or have to do. 

Start by writing down all of the things that you have to and want to do, by when. That way you have a helicopter view & plan, to then review what is possible and what simply has to get done. Going a step further think about those individual tactics and things that you need to do, to get those bigger things done. Ticking things off that list is a great way to feel good.   

Personally, I use the free online tool Trello as much as possible. 

The all-important second part to this…
If, like most people in the world, you need a bit of a nudge as ‘life’ gets in the way, then the second solution to the Action Plan I’d suggest, is adding some accountability. Who can you ask to monitor you to check in and ask, “So have you done ‘x’?  If not, why not and when are you going to?”. 

Better yet, if they can help you construct your Plan so that you don’t feel alone in this, then that’s a bonus. The person can be a friend, family member, colleague or of course a professional coach, advisor or mentor. 

Change your view of yourself…
So, instead of being a Procrastinator, consider being a Prioritisor, however whatever you decide, take action today and do it!  Don’t say that you’ll start tomorrow and don’t wait to receive your own ‘Round Tuit’.

As Martin Luther King Jr said “You don’t have to see the whole staircase, just take the first step”. 

Lastly and to be fair to my Dad, he’s always been a very proactive and organised guy, so whilst I’m not sure that it was a necessary gift for him, I’m keen to ensure that I don’t need that bright red circular piece of plastic hanging above my desk. 

Credit of some content ideas: Alphaefficiency.com and of course, our son! Good on you for owning it. 

 

Richard Poole, Co-Pilot  With 25+ years in business, spanning being 4th generation in a family business, to selling his online start-up to the 13th largest Fortune500 company, Richard has ridden the ups and downs of personal & business life.  Working 1:1 with 150+ owners & managers over the last few years, he focuses on their Health & Wellbeing, alongside bringing sound business strategy to life.

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