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. 

Overcome Your Biggest Enemy To Getting Started

“The key to overcoming procrastination is to strive for excellence instead of perfection.”

It was a very frustrating day in my life.   I had a very important presentation to make and I was running late. I got in my car and put the address into my GPS navigation system.  The response I got from the system was “searching for satellite signal”.  Out of frustration, I called the customer support line.  What the customer service agent told me applies to many of the entrepreneurs with whom I work.

She said, “Mr. Twiggs, with your model of GPS, you have to start moving towards your destination.  Once you are in motion, your system will engage and tell you what to do next.”

This experience taught me that the fastest way to get to where you are going is to start moving.  Keep reading and you will learn about the biggest enemy of getting started and how to overcome it. 

Perfectionism
Perfectionism is procrastination in disguise.  A perfectionist believes that he has to have all of the details in perfect order before beginning a project.  He puts off going to the networking function because his updated business cards have not arrived.  He delays writing his book because he doesn’t know which publisher he will choose.  He does not hire that key employee because he does not know all of the details of how the new healthcare legislation will impact his business. 

The question becomes, what can you do to overcome perfectionism?  Taking the following two steps will answer this question:

  1. Be Clear On Your Destination - Steven Covey said it best: ”Begin with the end in mind.” The one thing that I had going for me in my GPS illustration was that I was certain about my destination.  Having a written plan that starts with a clear vision of where you want to end up is the key. 

    And, understanding the “why” behind what you are doing will make the “how” much easier. For example, my vision is to be a world class thought leader on the topic of time management.  Knowing this, makes me less likely to procrastinate when it comes to blogging or writing books.

  2. Take Small Steps – The question you have to ask yourself is: “What is the next step towards my goal?” A small step in the direction of your goal is significant, and a much better alternative than standing still.

If you are writing a book, the next step may be creating the title. Writing a business plan would be a good next step for starting a business. Creating a job description would be a good first step to the hiring process. 

Being clear on your destination and taking small steps in that direction will allow you to overcome perfectionism and to put off procrastination! 

Sincerely,
Eric M. Twiggs
Your Procrastination Prevention Partner
www.ericmtwiggs.com 

PS. For additional strategies on getting started, read my latest ebookOne 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. 

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
 

Three Words That Will Destroy Your Day

You are having a productive day and plowing through your to-do list.  You’ve blocked off time to start a special project and are on pace to finish well ahead of schedule.   Suddenly, you are confronted with those three little words that can destroy your day: “Got a minute?” 

Most offices have the person that I describe as ”Got a Minute Gary”.  This is the individual that is always approaching you when you’re in the middle of completing an important project and asking, “Hey Eric, you got a minute?” I’ve discovered that they never take only a minute. On a good day, they waste at least 20 minutes of your time. Gary’s sole mission in life is to make you late. 

As you keep reading, you will learn two strategies to effectively deal with “Got a Minute Gary”. If you happen to be the Gary of your office, I hope this message inspires you to change your ways!

Calculate
It’s important to know the value of your time. Knowing this will motivate you to protect it against unscheduled interruptions.   The calculation is simple.  Take your desired annual income and divide by the number of weeks you work factoring in scheduled vacations.   So if your desired income is $110,000 and you work 49 weeks (factoring in 3 vacation weeks), divide dollars weeks and you get $2,244.89.  Next, take the $2,244.89 and divide by the hours you work per week.  Be sure to subtract lunch time.  If you work 50 hours per week and take an hour for lunch each day, you would divide by 45 hours and get $50. In this calculation, your time is worth $50 per hour. 

For many of the people that I work with, their time is worth $100 per hour and up. If you fall into this category and Gary takes up a half an hour of your time, he is literally costing you $50 each time he interrupts you. Every time he shows up at your desk, picture yourself giving him a $50 dollar bill. 

Communicate
When working on a project, let everyone know up front the times of day that you will not be available. This can be accomplished by putting a sign out notification on your email that lets people know the specific blocks of time that you will be out of the loop. Whenever someone emails you they will see the message. 

My favorite approach is the direct one.   When Gary asks you if you have a minute, tell him what you are working on, and offer to schedule an appointment time with him to discuss what he wants to talk about.  Have your calendar ready BEFORE he approaches you. 

You tell him what times work best for you instead of asking him when he is available.  Make sure you communicate when the meeting will start AND when it will end.   Short time windows inspire people to get to the point. 

The appointment will send the message that your time is too valuable to be wasted and will make Gary think twice before interrupting you again.   By calculating the value of your time and communicating your availability, you can avoid those three deadly words for good! 

Sincerely,
Eric M. Twiggs
Your Procrastination Prevention Partner

To access additional time management strategies download my latest ebook, One Moment in Time.