Tuesday, June 18, 2013

The Procrastination Infection

I'll do it when:
  • I'm in the right mood. [When that state is achieved, I'm a dynamo.]
  • The time is right. [If it ever is.]
  • I have enough time to complete the entire project. [Because doing part of it just wouldn't be right.]
  • I have all of the information. [And I always need more information.]
  • Everyone's back from vacation. [Don't they all go at the same time?]
It is a rare person who is immune from the procrastination infection. All of us can find ample excuses for not tackling a project. A reason why we succumb to many of those excuses is that they are seldom without merit. We also want to do it right and "it" is the entire project.

Time management consultant/author David Allen notes that we don't work on projects; projects are the result of what we work on, and that rather than adopting an "all or nothing" approach, we should  focus on the next steps. That way, we will get to the end of the day with some tangible progress in hand instead of gazing at - and being demoralized by - a list of unfinished projects. [We experience more stress from the uncompleted than from the "not started."]

There is much wisdom in Allen's advice. Most of the good and bad things in life are produced incrementally. Every day, we advance or fall back in small segments. Taking matters 30 minutes at a time can make enormous sense. There will be hectic days when 10 minute segments may be necessary.

If we are going to fight procrastination, we have to think incrementally.

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