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Myth of Procrastination–and One Powerful Strategy

Updated: Feb 8

As a "get-things-done" kind of person, I love productivity tools: sticky notes, planners, checklists, highlighters, notepads, etc. My kids know I can't walk through the planner/organizer aisles without something catching my eye!

These productivity tools may be motivating at first. They may help organize things we want to do. But the truth is they're less helpful when we procrastinate. (I've learned this the hard way!) That's because procrastination is less about forgetting or being distracted and more about avoidance.

As the iconic character Scarlett O'Hara said in "Gone with the Wind" after Rhett leaves her:

"I can't think about that today. I'll go crazy if I do. I'll think about that tomorrow."

Holding high expectations is an admirable trait among leaders, until...these expectations hold them back from making a major change or a big leap.

  • a business owner who wants to raise his rates but doesn't believe in his value

  • an executive who avoids giving critical feedback to a key vendor to avoid hurting feelings

  • the business owner who wants grow the business but is afraid of making a bad hiring decision

When procrastination strikes (or seems to want to move into your mind for good), try this strategy to break the cycle.

Think smaller. Identify one small step (and only one) you can commit to that will move you forward. Let go of all the times you have procrastinated. Don't let yourself get caught up in the "big-ness" of the goal, issue, or opportunity. Instead think smaller. Think about what's doable and what will simply get you into action.

Instead of feeling overwhelmed by making sweeping rate changes, choose to propose higher rates to the one next prospective client.

Instead of feeling burdened by sharing long-overdue critical feedback, choose to give one piece of current critical feedback on your next vendor call.

Instead of fearing failure in the recruiting, hiring, and onboarding process, choose to make a list of what's important in a new hire.

One small action can build motivation and confidence. From there you can take on another small action. Or maybe two. Or maybe a bigger action. Over time, you can build new ways of managing doubt, overwhelm, or fear.

What is one small action you commit to?

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