How To Procrastinate

“There is never enough time to do everything, but there is always enough time to do the most important thing.”

Brian Tracy

Procrastination is not necessarily a bad thing. Now that I have your attention, let me clarify my point by sharing the following illustration. Several weeks ago while visiting a friend in the hospital, I happened to pass the emergency room. While in the emergency room I noticed an interesting pattern. 

Patients were not being serviced in the order that they arrived. Those that had cold symptoms and minor bruises were forced to wait while the patients with major injuries were taken in immediately. 

There was a Triage Nurse on duty, whose job was to make sure that the injuries with the most urgency received the highest priority. This was not a first come, first served system. The emergency room is a reminder of the fact that your most important priority is not necessarily the first task that comes to your attention. 

Too many of the to do lists that I see are first come first serve. If there is a list of ten items, most people start with the first item on the list. The problem is that the first item may be the least important while item number ten could be urgent. So, how do you determine what is urgent and what can wait? Keep reading and you will learn how to procrastinate. 

Triaging is a system for assigning priorities based on urgency. The nurse in the previous illustration is called a Triage Nurse because her main job is to prioritize. 

I truly believe that if you have more than three priorities that you really don’t have any. When I attack my to do’s, I place a star by the tasks that are truly urgent. The star tells me that if there was a power outage and I could not get anything else done, completing this task would make my day a productive one. For me, checking e-mail, checking voicemail, or sending social media communication is not urgent and does not get a star. I can procrastinate on these tasks because they are not priorities. 

Many of the people with whom I work have a habit of checking e-mail first thing in the morning. They react to a message and spend a significant part of their day putting out fires. The problem is that the truly urgent items take a back seat to something that is of lower importance. They either spend more time in the office or ignore what is truly important. 

If you embrace the process of Triaging, you will have more time for your priorities by procrastinating on those tasks that are not urgent. A failure to triage you will cause you procrastinate on your priorities which is never a good thing! So there you have it. If you know someone who can benefit from this week’s message, please share it using the social share buttons at the bottom of this posting. 

Eric M. Twiggs
Your Procrastination Prevention Partner

PS. For more information on How to Procrastinate, read my ebook. 

How To Balance Work and Family

When I was growing up, the following song was always playing on the radio:

My son turned ten just the other day
He said, "Thanks for the ball, Dad, come on let's play
Can you teach me to throw", I said "Not today
I got a lot to do", he said, "That's ok"
And he walked away but his smile never dimmed
And said, "I'm gonna be like him, yeah
You know I'm gonna be like him"

Harry Chaplin (Lyrics from the song The Cat’s in the Cradle;1974)

The Father in this song was always too busy too spend time with his son. In his older years, the Dad tried to make up for lost time, only to discover that his son followed his example by being too busy with the demands of life. The lesson here is that once you lose time, you never get it back. 

Noted author and speaker Jim Rohn said it best when he said that we must all suffer from either the pain of discipline or the pain of regret. If you fail to apply the disciplines that lead to a balanced life, you will look back with regret. 

As you continue to read you will learn one of the most important disciplines necessary to balance work and family. 

Every minute wasted at the office is a minute of family time lost. Surfing the social media sites and processing emails are two of the biggest time wasters. According to a recent office survey, 75% of the respondents reported that they spent at least two hours per day on social media sites. Thirty-three percent admitted to spending two hours per day reading and processing emails. What can you do to put your social media and email on auto pilot, so that you don’t end up like the Dad in the song? 

This nifty app allows you to update Facebook, Twitter, & Linked In at the same time. Have you ever logged onto Facebook with the goal of quickly making a post only to be distracted by an instant message or friend request? Hootsuite allows you can make your updates without the interruptions. 

The Hootsuite feature that I like best is the ability to schedule posts in advance. I simply dedicate a one hour block of time during the week where I schedule up to three weeks worth of updates. 

This habit alone has saved me thirty minutes per day that I would normally spend on social media. I now spend the extra time at home taking my daughter to the playground. 

Email Rules Have you ever struggled to focus on a project because of the numerous email alerts chiming through your speakers? The solution is to set your email rules so that these audible alerts are disabled. This will help you to check your email only at the specific times you set for yourself. 

Even though I subscribe to several electronic newsletters and receive hundreds of emails per day, my inbox is usually empty. This is because I set my email rules so that certain emails go directly to my folders and not my inbox. 

For example, I have a special folder for any communication that I am CC’d on. These emails automatically go to this folder and I can read them at my leisure since they are not addressed directly to me. This habit has saved me an hour per day of office time. 

By Automating my social media and email, I save a total of ninety minutes per day. Ninety minutes per day over the course of the year works out to additional twenty three thousand four hundred minutes of free time to spend with your family. 

If you need specific instructions on how to automate your social media and email, please email me at . 

Eric M. Twiggs
Your Procrastination Prevention Partner

PS. For additional strategies on how to balance work and family, get your copy of my ebook. 

Don’t Let Technology Kill Your Time

“A failure to properly automate can cause you to procrastinate.”

The lack of technology killed my time. The year was 1992 and I was an undergrad at Hampton University. I wanted to make a phone call and decided to go the pay phone. I realized that I did not have quarter and had to go get change. When I got back, there was someone on the phone so I had to wait. 

Later in the day, I got a letter from a friend who had transferred to a school in Wisconsin. She updated me on how she was doing and wanted to hear back from me. There was no Facebook, email or texting, and I could not afford the long distance bill. My only option was to write her a letter, drop it in the mailbox, and wait. 

That evening, the pay phone was finally free so I decided that I would make a collect call to my parents and ask them to send me some money. The line was busy and since there were no cell phones or Skype service, I had to . . . wait. 

Now that we are in 2012, technology has eliminated all of my time management issues, right? 

Technology is like a gun. When used properly, it can protect your time and add to your life. Just like a gun, technology in the wrong hands can kill your time and keep you away from your family. Think about it, you can spend your entire day responding to emails, answering your cell phone, and communicating on social media. 

Have you ever been out at a restaurant in the evening and seen a guy who is with his family, but spends his entire time on his smartphone? If you can relate to that guy, the tools below are for you. They will help you to effectively use technology and get your time back:

  1. RescueTime
    RescueTime is a free app that allows you to measure how much time you spend on email, the Internet and social media. It gives you daily and weekly productivity scores based on the amount of time you spend surfing. You can adjust the settings and program predetermined time limits for any website. Once you exceed your limit the app will deny you access to that site. For example, if you feel you spend too much time on Facebook, you can set a limit of 15 minutes per day. Once you exceed your limit, Rescue time will deny you access.

  2. HootSuite
    If you are like me and use Facebook, TwitterLinkedIn and Google+, the HootSuite app can save you a great deal of time. It will allow you to send one message that will update on all of your social media accounts at the same time. HootSuite also gives you the option to schedule your posts in advance.

  3. Sanebox
    This nifty service will help you keep your e-mail inbox clean by creating separate folders for unimportant messages. Sanebox will also allow you to create an “unsubscribe folder” where you can move any newsletter or blogs that you no longer read and unsubscribe to multiple lists with one click. You can also program follow up reminders for emails you've sent that haven't received a response.

There you have it. All three of these services are free and can save you a great deal of time.