With your new Systems Mindset, procrastination will be gone forever.
Overcoming your natural tendency to procrastinate is a simple thing, but first you’ll need to get an outside-and-slightly-elevated perspective. This is a perspective based on hard reality; a viewpoint that is no longer swayed by excuses.
Whenever I’m pushing a coaching student to the next level and we identify a stumbling block, we go right to “the root of things.” I’ve heard literally every excuse in the book about why systemization has stalled, or why they don’t deliver on their commitments both to themselves and to me, their coach. It’s “I’m too busy,” or “an important client called,” or “my software won’t do that,” or “once I hire one more staff member then I’ll have time,” or “once we have more money we can push ahead.”
Do any of these excuses sound familiar? Most have nothing to do with the real reason for falling behind, so let’s take things apart.
#1. I don’t have time! Everyone has the same amount of time so, to be blunt, this excuse is a victim stance on reality. Who chooses what you do with your time? YOU do! My suggestions: If you have a high priority project and can’t get started on it, break it up into its individual elements and proactively set aside specific time blocks to work on each of those elements, one-by-one. Start with the first element, one you can complete quickly. Then, move to the next, etc. Here’s something: it’s likely many of those elements can be worked on by people other than you. In coaching, I want to see incremental progress on a project, week after week. It’s painful for me to watch a business owner or manager stay at 0% completion for months, dreaming about a utopia where there will be forty hours of available free time to work on the pet-project. There’s a 100% likelihood the project is never going to start.
#2. I don’t know how to do it! This excuse is rarely expressed (simple pride blocks people from admitting it), but it’s the root of many never-completed projects. For example, for you personally, how is your Strategic Objective coming along? And, your General Operating Principles? Do you feel confident you know what you’re doing? Or are you afraid of making things worse? If this is what is holding you back, then projects like this will stay on your to-do list forever. My tip: quickly identify those things that you don’t know how to do and get training, or get someone to help or do it for you…immediately. You’re never going to magically acquire the skills, experience, or training to overcome this sticking point. You must take action and that starts with asking questions and getting guidance.
#3. I don’t like doing this! Has anyone ever delayed cleaning out the garage? Of course! Again, live in reality! Do you like writing working procedures? No, you don’t, but it’s OK, you’re not alone: 98% of my students don’t like doing the documentation…but 100% percent love the results. This is why systemizing your business is such a powerful competitive advantage. (Almost none of your competitors have rolled up their sleeves and have actually done it!) A few quick hints to make the intolerable, tolerable: do the work first thing in the morning when you have the most energy and self-control, include your team in the work, develop short-term rewards and milestones…and then celebrate positive results. As you’re basking in the great results, I assure you that systemizing your business will have been incredibly satisfying.
So, right now, take a look at your to-do list whether it’s on paper or in your head. What excuses are holding you back?
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Photo: Courtesy of Flikr, Photographer, Dick Jensen