“Almost always, there IS one thing among all others that must be done first.” Stephen R Covey
And more often than we’d care to admit, said ‘one thing’ gets demoted to ‘lower than the quick, convenient or more pleasurable thing’. How do I know this?
I know this because I procrastinate for Wales. As the national team strives ever forward towards whatever level of success their skills, self-belief and luck dictate, I find that when it comes to putting things off – even the things that I consider to be important – I am Gold Medal Standard.
I am currently involved in a project that I consider to be very important, even ‘legacy-related’. It is something I believe in, wholeheartedly. It relates to the provision of Third Resolution service and it requires Second Resolution competence in communication and time management. Unfortunately, sitting down and getting on with it requires First Resolution self-discipline, and like many procrastinators, that is where lies any failure to get on with it.
Which is not to say that I am not making progress. In recognising that I have a tendency to procrastinate, I also realise that this tendency also creates the ‘opportunity’ to exercise self-discipline and get on my arse and do it. (Deliberate choice of words, it involves sitting at a desk.)
Once a day I have to sit at my computer and do what I both want and have to get done. In our digital world this presents a challenge, because just as the average worker sits at that screen, a tumultuous number of ‘alternative opportunities’ not only arise, but actually demand a change of attention.
The ‘ping’ of a new email, the potential new ‘Breaking News’ which requires repeated visits to the Interweb, only to discover that said Breaking News is, in fact, the same news you heard about an hour ago but which now has a journalist in place confirming that what he said just now was still the case. The stimulus on the screen which sparks in your memory the existence of a ‘to-do’ you had not realised you had, er, to do, until the screen/noise/presence alerted you to it.
All of those things can take seconds to address, but their presence and ‘in your face’ nature pulls you away from that original commitment, and getting back to it takes effort.
In the final analysis, however, it is the execution of self-discipline that cures all this. Turn off the pings, resist the desire to ‘just check on’ the BBC News, shut your office door (a surprisingly effective anti-interruption technique that costs nothing), and GET THE HELL ON WITH IT.
And get on with it particularly if what it is you have to get on with is important, whether to you – or to someone about whom who care.
That last caveat also means that when your wife appears over your shoulder, you really, truly ought to change your focus from the screen to her. Your loved ones should always, ALWAYS be first. If only because, life being what it is, suddenly and unexpectedly they won’t be there to be first anymore.
Which brings me back to procrastination.
I really must stop putting her off when I’m busy ……….