Have you noticed your “To Do” list getting longer because of daily fire drills, new projects, unanswered emails, phone calls, and texts, not to mention all the things needing your attention at home? By day’s end, you find yourself surrounded by more “stuff” you don’t want to deal with; don’t know what to do with, or you will get to when and if you have time. Sound familiar?
Stuff happens, and your mind becomes cluttered with tons of details. It’s disorienting. Just thinking about this stuff is exhausting. The energy drain of the clutter keeps your attention away from what you want to do and puts it on what you don’t want to do. Procrastination sets in, stress increases, and the mind clutter keeps growing like weeds.
The consequence of putting it off
Unfortunately, the cost of not dealing with this clutter is much higher than actually dealing with it. The price is the amount of energy you burn, not doing it. The more you delay, the bigger the pile gets until it becomes overwhelming.
As Orin Miller said, “If you want to make an easy job seem mighty hard, just keep putting off doing it.”
My friend learned this lesson the hard way. A few years ago, she was a Medical Records Administrator working in a small plastic surgery hospital. Every week, as patient files were updated, she would meet with doctors to sign off on notes, etc. There were a few problematic cases that she would put to the side to deal with later. As these files grew more substantial, she continued to sideline them. The longer she put it off, the higher her anxiety grew, and she couldn’t bring herself to meet with the doctors because they were getting so old. She was afraid as time went on; they might fire her for not doing her job. She procrastinated for over nine months. She finally bit the bullet and met with everyone. She said it was extremely hard for her to do it. However, it was anti-climactic because they said there was no harm done. All that worrying for nothing!
Gain back control
People who thrive know that the consequence of letting things go is detrimental to accomplishing what is important to them. It obscures what needs to get done to be successful. It’s like treading water; you use a lot of energy and don’t get anywhere. Would you prefer to tread water or thrive?
Nine Steps To Being Proactive
Napoleon Hill said, “Procrastination is the bad habit of putting off until the day after tomorrow what should have been done before yesterday.”
All the details that have not been completed obscure what is essential and what can be deferred or ignored. Everything begins to feel important; plus, the more you put off, the greater the time needed to get back on track.
Action steps to get back on course
- Create a list of what is getting in your way from sewing a button on your pants, to updating your front pocket plan (career plan), to strategic planning for your projects or organization. Include anything that is keeping you from thriving in your environment or keeping you awake at night. This list can become really long.
- Rank each from the most significant drain or pain to least.
- Take the top-ranking drain, and schedule a time in your calendar to take care of it.
- Complete it, delegate it to someone else, or create a new habit or process so it won’t be a problem again.
- If you’re unsure of what to do, get a mentor, hire a coach, or talk to others you respect for alternative actions.
- When done, cross it off your list, and tackle the next item by going through these steps again.
- Look at those items that always seem to stay at the bottom. You will most likely never do them. Do they require your attention? I say, strike them off the list and be done with it!
- Remember to schedule time in your calendar to complete these tasks. Scheduling creates structure. Respect that time as you would meetings with others.
- Commit to continuing with these steps to stay on course to keep your commitments.
Life is always chaotic and dynamic. You can remain calm within the storm by breathing deeply to ground yourself and then use these strategies to keep on track one small step at a time!
Be aware of how great it feels to get those things off your back and back on track!
It drains your mental, physical, and emotional energy tanks. It lurks in the back of your mind like floating yellow stickies fighting for your attention. You are so focused on what you haven’t done; you can’t focus on what you want to get done.
Bottom line: Procrastination will never get you where you want to be—not in your projects, your vision, or your relationships.