Your Personal Procrastination Prescription

“What is necessary to change a person is to change his awareness of himself.”

- Abraham Maslow

A common recipe for failure is the mixture of the right idea with the wrong plan. Recently, I was unable to sleep because of nasal congestion and sneezing.   To find relief I took some cold and flu medicine. The medication did not help, so I visited my doctor.  The doctor told me that I had seasonal allergies; not a cold. He then prescribed a specific remedy based on my situation.  As it turns out, I had the right idea, but the wrong plan. 

Your desire to stop procrastinating on important tasks is the right idea. The fact that you continue in this habit is an indication that you have the wrong plan.  What can be done to put the right plan in place? 

Consider Your Personality
Your personality is a blend of genetic and learned tendencies.   According to modern psychological research, everyone falls into one of four categories: Driver, Sanguine, Analytical or Peacemaker. 

Below is a breakdown of these areas along with a procrastination prescription that is specific to each type:

  1. Driver Dan – Dan is the “type A” personality.  He is driven, results focused, confrontational and assertive. Michael Jordan and Donald Trump would be good examples.

    Drivers have a tendency to respond to deadlines, so the best way to overcome procrastination would be to make sure you give yourself a firm deadline for completion. 

    I am a “type A” personality.  When I have a major writing project, I block off one hour each day using a kitchen timer.  Have a daily deadline forces me to make the most of the time.

  2. Sanguine Sally – Sally thrives off of being the center of attention and loves to hear the sound of her own voice.   She lives for the here and now and likes to have fun.  Kim Kardashian and Dennis Rodman come to mind when I think of a Sanguine. 

    You will procrastinate most on tasks that you do not perceive to be fun and enjoyable.   Creating a reward system for accomplishing the objective is a way around this.  Treating yourself to a weekend getaway as a reward for finishing that business plan will help you move forward.

  3. Analytical Al – Al likes to have all of the facts and details in order before he takes action.  Engineers and accountants tend to have this type of personality.  The movie character “Dr. Emmit Brown” from Back to the Future fits the description. 

    Your tendency is to be slow in making decisions when the next steps are not concrete.  Having the plan written out in detail before you proceed will lessen the chance of procrastination. 

    If you are writing a book, having the title, chapters and talking points for each chapter written out in advance would be a great way to start.

  4. Peacemaker Patricia – Patricia likes to see everyone get along, avoids confrontation and does not want to make waves.  She is agreeable and easy to like.  “Mr. Rogers” of Mr. Rogers Neighborhood would be an example. 

    You like doing tasks that are easy for you, and get overwhelmed by those that seem complex. Your natural response to a complicated assignment is to do nothing.

    Breaking the task down into specific action steps, and committing to a one step at a time  will make things easier. You must ask yourself:  “What is the next step?” 

    If you are writing a business plan, focus all of your initial attention on the first step of creating a vision statement.  Focusing step-by-step will be easier for you than looking at all of the details of the project as a whole.

Procrastination is nothing to take lightly. Having the right prescription based on your personality will help you to break the habit! 

Sincerely,
Eric M. Twiggs
Your Procrastination Prevention Partner

PS.  For additional insights that will help you overcome procrastination, download my ebook, One Moment in Time. 

How To Stay Focused When the Journey Is Uncomfortable

“Eric, I scheduled you for an appointment with the eye doctor today.”  This statement from my wife seemed insignificant at the time. Everything changed when the doctor reported that I had a detached retina and that if it was not treated, I risked blindness. 

I had canceled the previously scheduled eye appointments, guilty of the very thing I speak about – procrastination. I don’t look forward to the long wait and uncomfortable eye exam, so it was easy for me to find reasons to put it off. Are there any uncomfortable tasks that you have been putting off that are vital to your success? 

If you procrastinate for too long, it can cost you your vision. Not necessarily your physical eye sight, but your vision as it relates to your goals and dreams. So, how do you stay focused when the journey is uncomfortable?

  1. Accountability – My wife is the ultimate accountability partner. If I have a doctor’s appointment, I know that she will remind me about it before- hand, and ask me how it went afterwards. 

    Finding a like-minded accountability partner that you have to answer to, will keep you on track. Once you have identified this person, pick a goal that is critical to your ultimate purpose. Then, communicate your goal to your partner and establish follow up timelines. 

    Hiring the right business coach can also keep you accountable. One of the biggest challenges with being an entrepreneur is not having a boss to hold your feet to the fire. A good coach can make you aware of patterns of procrastination and provide you with someone to answer to.

  2. Association – Make it a habit to have regular fellowship with groups of people that are on the same path as you. My involvement with the National Speakers Association keeps me accountable and helps me stay focused on my goals as a professional speaker. 

    If your goal is to grow as an entrepreneur, plug into your industry’s association and commit to attending the meetings. I have found that attending the annual conventions will shorten your learning curve by as much as six months in comparison to not attending. 

    Many of these associations form “mastermind groups”. This is a select group of people that meet on a regular basis for the sole purpose of sharing best practices and holding each other accountable. 

    The clients that I have worked with report that finding the right mastermind group is a life changing experience.

Having an accountability system and attending regular association meetings will help you to stay focused when the journey is uncomfortable.

Sincerely,
Eric M. Twiggs
Your Procrastination Prevention Partner

For additional information on seeing your vision through, read my ebook, One Moment in Time. 

How To Stop Doing What You Have Always Done

“The secret to breaking a bad habit is to replace it with a good habit that lines up with your goals.”

You may be familiar with the following quote: “If you keep on doing what you've always done, you'll keep getting what you've always gotten.” I disagree with this statement. I believe that if you continue to do the same things, you will end up with less than what you originally had. 

For example, if your customers look for businesses using the Internet and you continue to run ads in the yellow pages, you will have fewer customers as a result of doing what you have always done. Or, if instead of making those cold calls, you continued the habit of randomly surfing the Internet, you would end up with less money in the bank. 

This is why successful people have systems in place to track what they are doing and how they spend their time. I define a bad habit as anything that you do repeatedly that does not support your goals. Time that is spent on such activities is wasted time. You are where you are today based on your daily habits. Where you end up five years from now will be determined by your habits. 

As you read on, you will discover how to use a simple tool to keep you trending towards your goals.

The Twiggs Time Tracker will allow you to track how you are spending your time each day. Here is how it works. First, use a document like the one above to account for each hour of your day. At the end of each hour, take a few minutes to reflect on how you spent your time. If you spent the hour wisely, there is no need to write anything. 

If you feel that you wasted time, write the specific time wasting activity next to the hour. For example, if at 11:00 am you wasted time surfing the Internet, you would write "Surfing the Internet" next to 11:00 am. By doing this, you will start to notice patterns. 

At the end of the week review each of the activities that you wrote down. Your awareness of how you spend your time will increase and so will your productivity. You can create this tracking document with pen and paper or you can e-mail me and I can send you an electronic copy. 

Sincerely,
Eric M. Twiggs
Your Procrastination Prevention Partner

PS. For additional information on making the most of your time, download my latest ebook, One Moment in Time. 

Three Keys to Finding Your Calling

The year was 2002 and I was a District Manager in Corporate America responsible for over 500 employees and 17 locations. My boss called me with some great news. The Vice President of the company wanted to offer me the position of Midwest Regional Manager. I would be responsible for over 5,000 employees in 7 Midwest States. The promotion would include a significant increase in pay and I would be one of the youngest Regional Managers in the history of the company!

I spoke to my colleagues and they advised me to accept the position, and that saying NO would be career suicide. I asked my boss what he thought and he agreed. 

I took everyone’s advice into consideration and said NO to the opportunity. 

On the surface, taking the position seemed like a no brainer, but it failed The Line- up Test because it did not line up with the vision that I had for my life. The single factor that will help you to say NO to the wrong opportunity is clarity of purpose. When you are clear on your life’s purpose, your gut will tell you when you are taking a course of action that does not line up -- even when it seems like a good idea on the surface.

The question becomes:  How do you go about finding your calling? Keep reading and you will discover my three keys to finding your calling:

Pro Bono
This is a Latin phrase for professional work that is done for free. If we lived in a world without money, what would you spend your 5-8 hours doing? Your answer is an indication of your calling. I am sure that Lebron James and Tiger Woods would play their respective sports if there was no money involved. 

Passion
If you could make a difference for anyone or any cause, what would it be? I have observed certain ministers, police officers, and teachers in action. The passion that they demonstrate is a sign that they consider their work a calling and not just a job. 

Personal Abilities
What talent do you possess for which people are always complimenting you? Those compliments are confirmation of the direction that you should pursue. For example, if people in different settings are always complimenting your public speaking ability, joining your local Toastmasters club would be a good next step. Once you enter an environment that allows you to cultivate your gifts, your next steps become clearer.

I am living proof that when you make decisions based on what you believe you are called to do, everything works itself out. Three months after I said no to the promotion, the company went through a restructure and eliminated the job. If I had not listened to my gut, I would have been unemployed.

What would you do pro bono? What you are passionate about? What are your personal abilities? You will find your calling and make your future decision making process much easier once you answer these questions. 

Sincerely,
Eric M. Twiggs
Your Procrastination Prevention Partner

PS. To get additional information on how to discover your calling, download my latest ebook, One Moment in Time.

Your 2-Minute Offense

Work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion.”

- Cyril Parkinson

I am a fan of the National Football League. For me, the most intriguing aspect of the game is the 2-minute offense. When time is running out and a team is losing, they implement this” hurry up” offense in an attempt to catch up. There was one game in particular that comes to mind as a good example of this strategy. 

The Washington Redskins were playing the New Orleans Saints. Through the first three quarters, the Redskins were winning every phase of the game. The Saints struggled to move the ball and score points. 

Suddenly, in the 4th quarter with about eight minutes left, the Saints implemented the 2-minute offense. They scored more points in the last eight minutes than they did in the other three quarters combined! Why didn’t the Saints just run this offense the entire game? 

This reminds me of some of the executives that I have worked with that get more done the week before they go on vacation than they did in the previous three weeks of the month. Or the clerks at the local retail store that are able to check out more customers in the last 30 minutes before closing than they did the previous three hours. 

Or the college student that is able to get more accomplished on his term paper the week it's due than he did the entire semester. These three examples each have one thing in common -- improved productivity resulting from an urgent deadline. Is it possible to have the same level of focus on a project or task without the existence of a pending deadline? 

Important But NOT Urgent
The first key to maintaining the right level of focus on an important project is to begin BEFORE it becomes urgent. Author Stephen Covey breaks down time management into four quadrants:

  1. Important and urgent
  2. Important but not urgent
  3. Not important and urgent
  4. Not important and not urgent

If the college student started the term paper at the beginning of the semester, it would be a Quadrant 2 activity because it is important, but not due until the end of the term. Waiting until the last minute makes it a Quadrant 1 activity. Resolve to identify and complete your important projects before they become urgent. 

Time Block
Once you have identified the important project, the next step is to create the urgency. This can be done by scheduling specific blocks of time for completion. Using a timer to give yourself a deadline. For example, when I write my blog, I set my timer for 30 minutes. When the alarm buzzes, I have to stop whether I am finished or not. Having a deadline forces me to make the best use of the time that I have. I eliminate all outside distractions and only focus on the task at hand. Writing my blog is important, and blocking out the time allows me to finish well before it becomes urgent.

Some of the good football teams run the 2-minute offense early in the game when they are ahead on the scoreboard. If you commit to identifying your Quadrant 2 activities, and blocking out time for completion, you will have successfully implemented your own 2-minute offense! 

Sincerely,
Eric M Twiggs
Your Procrastination Prevention Partner