I am a self-proclaimed procrastinator. Nothing gives me a jolt of energy like a looming and important deadline. It’s exciting after all to challenge my focus, energy and skills. Can I hit the deadline and still produce a high quality result? Of COURSE, I can! (She says boldly and confidently—I’ve done it a bazillion times!)
Ah yes, those “planner” types say….but at what cost? Buzz kill.
Well, I know I can sometimes create stress for others who are waiting on me for information. I know they’re occasionally freaked out wondering if I’ll be prepared. Will I have the “stuff” done? Or it’s the judgement. In the case of my husband, that look. You know the one—like, “You know you do this to yourself, right?” or the ever popular, “You could have done this last week, you had last Wednesday at 2 pm free right?” Both statements including a heavy sigh for emphasis.
What does this have to do with effective leadership? Oh, so much. Why? Because the opposite of procrastination is time management and planning.
Time management. Can we even manage our time anymore? With all the conflicting demands on our schedules, isn’t it just inevitable that our priorities will continue to shift? If I get something done WAY in advance, what is the possibility (high) that expectations will change anyway? Or, that I will spend more time on that project than is needed (also high)—reworking it to perfection (aka my standards, not someone else’s)?
And if time management and planning was really the issue, all we would need to do is to honor everything that is currently on our calendars and get the work done in the allotted time….yes, that bi-weekly one-on-one session with your employee, yes that networking event that you’ve been dreading, and yes, that workout class you’ve been meaning to get to…Get it done. Move on.
I think with all the competing demands and expectations we face as leaders, it’s less about time management and more about mind management.
As I examine my procrastination tendencies, and vow to be a better human- being-super-duper-planner type—I find it is less about time and more about my mindset. The shift is not as much about planning and calendaring, its about focus and honoring the commitments I’ve made.
Its more about keeping my promises. To myself. Its also more about managing the stress of those around me. Taking responsibility to be socially aware and responsive.
It means not annoying the people who count on me for information, for deliverables, for results.
So, this means more planning. Better mind management. Use the calendar and honor the commitment. Don’t put it off. I am doing well so far. Of course, it’s only day 2.
For my fellow converted procrastinators, what are tips and strategies that have worked best for you?