Procrastination is the thief of profit

Are you a procrastinator? While we may not wish to label ourselves as procrastinators – we have all procrastinated over one thing or the other at different times in our lives. In fact in most of our cases, not a day goes by where we don’t say, “I know I should be doing “it” but I will get around to “it” later! Very few people can honestly say that they’re not procrastinators in spite of the habit being a rather unhealthy one.

As business owners and executives we need to be very watchful over this time and joy thief. Have you ever met someone who was always busy chasing down deals, talking about how much they had to do – so much so that when they talked you got tired just imagining the pace of their life? But then one day you decided to take a closer look and realized that they actually did very little? These projects were going on in their mind but they never got down to working on any of them! It’s possible that a person like that would have to delude themselves every night by promising that tomorrow they would get the job finished. How else could rest come if this type of self delusional system was not in tact?

Or what about the half, one, two or three day seminar that you knew you must attend because THIS was exactly WHAT you needed to drive your business forward yet since returning to work you simply have not had the time to get to implementing any of the fantastic ideas that you know would streamline your processes and increase your profit. Then later on, when good information comes your way again in the form of a workshop you put down the event planner, seminar leader or concept saying that these events waste your time – when in fact YOU are responsible for wasting your own time. You use your criticism to absolve yourself of the responsibility for your own ineffectiveness by projecting it onto those who really are making an effort.

Non doers are usually critical. Our culture is full of critics. We sometimes even pay to hear them. They sit back and watch doers, then wax philosophical about how the doers are doing! It is easy to be critical but being a doer requires effort, risk and change – which these individuals prefer not to make. Alas remaining as a critic is comforting. Ever heard of the “Jonah complex”? You probably have it if you’re living in a comfort zone, performing unchallenging tasks, taking no risks, facing few problems, never concerned about growth, or testing your potential.

Resolving to do something in the future which you could do now is an acceptable substitute for doing it, and permits you to delude yourself that you are really not compromising yourself by not doing what you have set out to do. It goes something like this “I know I must do that, but I’m really afraid that I might not do well, or I won’t like doing it. So I’ll tell myself that I’ll do it in the future, then I don’t have to admit to myself that I’m not going to do ANYTHING. And it is easier to accept myself this way.”

How we do anything is how we do everything. When I first came across that phrase I wanted to argue with it -come up with reasons to prove the statement wrong. But a closer look at my life revealed some subtle yet present connections that revealed that habit will reinforce behaviour, pleasant or unpleasant and nasty habits will begin to show up in areas of your life that you’d much prefer that they didn’t!

If you’re a person who lives one way and says that you’re going to live another way in the future, those proclamations are empty. You are not what you say. You are what you do. Behaviour is a MUCH better barometer than your words.

Here is a simple solution to slay the procrastination giant, piece by piece. Make a decision today to live five minutes at a time. Instead of overwhelming your brain think about one thing that you can do in that five minutes and get it done. Sit down now and get started on something you’ve been postposting. Start the project, start the book, write the letter. Don’t use criticism to absolve yourself of the responsibility for your own ineffectiveness by projecting it onto those who are really making an effort. Take a look at your life and ask your self – are you doing what you’d choose to be doing if you knew you had six months to live? Parkinson’s Law says that work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion. Set a deadline and get cracking. Don’t let your present moments get filled with immobilizing anxiety over what you’re putting off. Thirty years remaining or six months makes no difference. Time is moving quickly. Delaying really makes absolutely NO SENSE! Live your life and begin profiting NOW!

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