Swords clashed. Armor jingled. Deep grunts could be heard as men felt the brutal force of blade upon a shield. Arrows whistled through the air, some hitting their mark, some covered in tar and set on fire, many making their kill. The year? Around 1500BC. The place? Jericho, Canaan Land—Israel’s mortal enemy and the gate into the Promised Land.
We are in a brutal war in the business world, a war that must be fought every day against an enemy that we can’t avoid. It’s a battle can keep us from succeeding. It’s a war, an enemy, that many people will succumb to, too tired to go on, refusing to fight any longer. This ruthless enemy of motivation, the necessity of success, is procrastination.
We have many people today who are procrastinators already, not reaching for success at all. Because they choose to not even try, they are “stuck” as entrance level burger flippers, janitors, or cashiers, not climbing the ladder of success or even earning more responsibility in their jobs. They’re just not motivated.
People procrastinate and keep procrastinating for many reasons. One is that we, as mortal humans, have a fear of failure that must be overcome if we are to be the victor over procrastination. We set our goals too high and expect to reach them. When we fall short, we say, “See! I shouldn’t have tried anyway. I always fail!” It makes it so much harder to try again in the future, causing us to procrastinate even further.
Others in this battle are slowly losing their motivation and slipping towards procrastination. You see, procrastination sneaks up on you. It stems from perfectionism. When we tend to be perfectionistic, it wears on us. Then, we get to where we start to put things off. “I can’t do that right now. It’s going to take FOREVER!” when, in essence, when done without the perfectionistic tendencies, it would take maybe half an hour instead of an hour and a half.
The battle for keeping a hold on that motivation can also stem from anxiety. Looking at our to-do list as a whole instead of as bite-sized chunks can really cause us to be overwhelmed. When we feel overwhelmed, anxiety grips us. Anxiety slows our emotional responses and our body as a whole, leaving us feeling even more vulnerable and overwhelmed.
The Warning Signs
In the medieval times, there were watchmen that stood on towers to spy out for the enemy. Before the enemy would ever get close to the city, they would be spotted, and the trumpet would be sounded like a sign of warning so the foot soldiers could be dispatched and the archers could be at the ready for when the enemy drew within range.
We have watchmen of our own, if you will, warning signs to watch for, signs of procrastination. Those who are motivated must be aware of these signs so they know if they are beginning to go down that slippery slope of procrastination.
One sign to watch for is being unrealistic about time. Many people fight time management issues because they think they have more time than they do. They can’t keep track of time. They’re always late. Maybe it’s because they get caught up on Facebook or in reading a book. They think, “Oh, I have 10 more minutes before I have to leave. I’ll do this until it’s time,” then it’s, “Oh, shoot!”
“Too much to do, not enough time”. Do you have more planned to do than you have hours in the day? It’s easy to find out if you do. Follow the checklist below:
On a piece of paper, write down your plans for the day.
Next, sit down with an hourly planner. You can make up a table on the computer and input the hours of the day for this purpose. Just make sure to make each row large enough to be able to fit the words in each row.
Write down every activity in its own slot, giving enough time for each to be completed.
Make sure to leave time for restroom breaks, breaks to stretch your legs, lunch, and supper if your timetable goes that far.
Do you have enough time in the day?
Where is your family time?
What time does it put you getting to bed? Waking up?
This exercise is a real eye-opener!
Another sign is insomnia. Not being able to shut your brain off because you’re constantly thinking about what needs to be done is the pits. Yes, I suffer from insomnia. Yes, my brain screams at me almost all. night. long... some nights. You can’t stop thinking. Ideas just keep rolling and rolling around your head. Are your goals vague with no details? Do you see problems instead of solutions? Do you have a hard time seeing what’s important and what you really want out of your business? Out of life? Are you unfulfilled? Depressed? You might be slipping into procrastination.
Victorious armies rely on strategies to overcome their enemies. Some that are used are successful strategies that have been developed by others. Others are strategies that have been carefully thought out and developed by generals and captains in new wars. There are also some strategies that will help us to overcome procrastination and stay motivated!
One strategy that can help us to be a victory over our enemy is to take an honest look at our to-do list. Let’s begin by writing it all down. If you need to jog your memory, you could pull that that hourly organizer we used earlier if you didn’t crumble it up and throw it away in frustration. I guess if you threw it away, you could grab it out and uncrumple it… but I wouldn’t. Looking at that to-do list probably makes you feel kind of overwhelmed right?
After you have your to-do list written down, take an honest inventory. How does it look? Get out another piece of paper.
On your to-do list, cross out those things you can delegate to others. Add their names and tasks to the delegation list. Cross out the things that are less pressing and can be done another day. Find another day on your calendar, a day that isn’t so full but isn’t too awful close to the due date as to cause stress. Add it there, and DON’T ADD THEM ALL ON THE SAME DAY! Lastly, cross out the things that are less important. Add that task to your calendar in the same manner.
**By the way, this has nothing to do with anything, but you fathers, if you have a choice between going to an investor’s meeting (or something of the like) or your daughter’s recital or son’s baseball game, you had better send a team member to that investor’s meeting and make that team member take detailed notes for you. Go to your child’s activity. That is the most important!
There are also a few other of the many strategies that I would like to name. One is to have an organized workspace. According to Angie’s List, one in 20 documents is lost among the clutter on the desks of the average executive to be never seen again. Also, every year there are over 150 hours wasted in looking for papers that should have been filed in their own places. “A place for everything, and everything in its place”, right? You should focus on just one task at a time. Setting a timer may help in this endeavor. The timer should be set for maybe 10 to 15 minutes—whatever you’re comfortable with. Take a 5-minute break. Walk around, get a drink, relax, whatever you need to do. Go at it again! Repeat. Repeat. Re-… Well, you get the idea.
Two more. Ready? Alright. First—Set very specific rules for yourself AND FOLLOW THEM! Here are some examples.
Set specific work hours. It’s a lot easier to get your to-do list done if you work a certain amount of time a day. It’s easier to work that certain time per day if you have a specific, set time you choose to work. If you have those specific hours set up and stick by them, it’s much easier to be motivated during that time.
Stay off Facebook until after your set work hours are over. Getting on beforehand makes most people lose track of time and start work late. It may also distract you later.
Keep a set bedtime so you can get up in the morning. I know. I know. You’re not a child, right? Well, staying up late will lead to lack of focus in the morning. The lack of focus leads to a lack of motivation.
Last but not least, even when you’re working from home, which some have the ability to do, dress for success. Dressing in your scrubby clothes makes you feel scrubby and unmotivated.
And number 2 of the last 2 (See! I’m holding to my promise!), get help from others. Get a support group of those who are motivated. Because those who are around you tend to rub off onto you, like chocolate-covered fingers on a new white shirt, you don’t want these confidants and counselors to be other souls with troubles in motivation.
Remember, your support group will be giving you advice. Do you really want that from others who are already failing?
My friends, let me encourage you to keep overcoming and overcoming. Israel had battle after battle in Canaan Land, later called Israel. They did not give up. They did not surrender. Neither should we. Overcoming motivation’s enemy, procrastination, is an ongoing, everyday process. Zig Ziglar once said, “Of course motivation is not permanent. But neither is bathing, but it is something you should do on a regular basis.” Confession Time: I fight procrastination too. We all do at times. It’s a battle that must be overcome. Fight hard! Fight for your business! Fight for your future!