The Spanish have an old saying, “Tomorrow is the busiest day of the week,” and for many chief security officers, it’s too true. Procrastination gobbles up our most precious resource: time.
There are things you’re putting off, goals you’ve been remiss about pursuing, projects waiting endlessly for completion. You’ve tried discipline and will power, but neither have much staying power. Since one definition of insanity is trying the same thing over and over and expecting a different result, it’s time for a new set of strategies.
Here are five radical procrastination strategies for you to experiment with. Give them a whirl – they might work better in your security operation than you imagine.
1 Embrace your imperfections…and stop trying to be normal, too!
We all know no one’s perfect, and never will be, but that doesn’t stop many of us from trying. While most of us are still attempting our own personal version of ideal, or at least as close as we can get to it, we still get tied up in how we’re far less than perfect.
Have you noticed that whenever you find yourself lacking in some way, your productivity level plummets? Have you noticed that when you or others make disparaging remarks about your abilities, it negatively influences your effectiveness?
You may be uncertain about what to expect of yourself once you start being more self-compassionate. Don’t worry, that’s a very normal part of the process of change. Instead of disparaging yourself, see what you need to do now to correct the situation, and what you can do in the future to prevent it from happening again.
2 Drop your tired old goals completely.
You know those desires you keep beating yourself up about. The ones you’ve never been able to accomplish or maintain. Drop those goals, at least for the moment. Maybe forever.
These kinds of “historical” goals are not typical accomplishments, but rather the result of months or years of continually applying effort and resolve. You must decide daily (with some of them, many times each day), or weekly to persist toward your objective.
So drop ‘em!
Understand this does not mean you must give up your old goals, nor that you will never be successful at achieving them, nor that using traditional methods won’t work. Those kinds of approaches do work, but they take effort, struggle and friction, and they suffer from a lack of sustainability.
One of two things will happen. Either you will be so relieved to be done with that goal that you will have more energy and enthusiasm for other important goals (it’s likely that there are quite a few of them), or you will realize this goal is too important and you will be re-energized to find new resources, support and tactics to get on a sustainable track.
3 Hire a hit man to kill you if you don’t follow through.
OK, so this is not meant literally, but you get the drift. You want to make putting it off harder than following through.
Who (or what) is your “hit man”? You may have a variety of them. Everyone is different, and what works for someone may not work for you. Being frank and truthful with yourself will reveal the answer. The “hit man” has to hurt at least a little, or it will not be effective and will backfire.
A few years ago, there was a news article about a man who was overweight and wanted to go on a diet. He hated to cook, and he usually ate in restaurants. He knew he would be more likely to lose weight if he was not able to eat out, so he came up with a novel solution. He created “Wanted” posters featuring his picture, and offered anyone who saw him in a restaurant a $1,000 reward. He posted these in all the restaurants he usually ate in, and in other places where he often went. This was a powerful “hit man” for him, enough so that he accomplished his goal and his story landed in the news.
Once you find a successful “hit man,” it may work for you forever, or it might start losing its punch after a while. That’s normal. Be creative and get help in devising a new one.
4 Don’t Take “Yes” For An Answer.
Most of the time when we add something to our to-do list, we do not really give much thought to whether it’s something that we really need to do or not, how we might accomplish it or whether we are really committed to doing so.
Before you include anything on your to-do list, give it a brief examination. Could it be you are just telling yourself you will do something without real intent and strategy to follow through? Don’t bother. You know what happens: You say you will do it, and then you ignore it, deny it, say you will do it just after you finish reading the paper, your e-mail or that security report. You believe you have good intentions. And for the most part, you do, especially when you create the intention! But are your intentions serious and realistic?
Stop just intending. Intention without action is like a car without wheels; you may have a vehicle, but it’s really hard to get anywhere.
When you catch yourself making a promise to take care of something, recognize your tendency to postpone it until another time. Don’t bother making that promise.
Don’t say, “yes” and neglect or forget to plan it (very typical).
Ironically, going from a knee-jerk “yes” to a well-executed and finished task is a pretty short leap. Usually, all it takes is the use of a calendar, a reminder system and a fitting reward and consequence plan. Sounds like a lot, you say? The system takes less than a minute to use. Is it worth a minute to make sure you get your task done?
5 Stop Trying To Finish.
Here’s the truth: Finishing is overrated, at least when you’re trying to get something done.
“What?!” Yes, you read correctly.
Well, of course you want to be done with it! But by making the end-goal your focus, you can, and do, feel easily overwhelmed.
The next thing you know, instead of sorting through your piles or opening the document you are supposed to be working on, you are in front of the television, refrigerator, e-mail inbox, or some other favorite procrastination location. When your eyes are trained to see only the finish line, it can seem really far away. It feels like you will never get there, or it will be a long, painful slog to reach it.
The next step is manageable, and you are more likely to take it, especially when you aren’t staring down a grueling slog. Once your focus is only on the next step, the entire project will feel less arduous. Keep starting. Eventually, you will finish, and it’s likely to be an easier and earlier finish than if you were only focusing on the end from the start.