I am a recovering procrastinator.
I didn’t always know what that meant but for as long as I can remember, I’ve been good at putting things off. “I’ll get to that next week” or “Tomorrow would be a better time to do that” or “I’ll just do this first”: these are common thoughts that occur in my mind.
Some argue that procrastination isn’t a problem. Some argue that if we defer on tackling a certain task, then that’s a measure of how important it really is to us. I’m not so sure.
When I was growing up, I heard people talking about putting things on the long finger. There’s even an equivalent phrase in Irish – an mear fhada. I understood that to mean that people were choosing to do certain things at a later date. But soon that concept got blurred. In my child-like mind, it was more like “let’s do good things now and push the bad things out to another time”.
It seems like a fun place to be. Let’s only do good things. Let’s only do easy things. Let’s only do things that don’t cause a fuss. But there are at least two problems with that line of thinking. Firstly, we don’t live in a bubble. The world deals us some tough breaks, as well as many extraordinary opportunities. We live in an interdependent world where other people might not care a lot about the rules within our special bubble. Secondly, if we stay in the bubble, we don’t grow. We don’t grow as people, as individuals, as unique human beings.
So, the world requires us to do things that we don’t initially want to do. Maybe we can start on those things tomorrow?
Procrastination can have unpleasant consequences. Especially when other people begin to judge us for our actions or, more appropriately, lack of them. You’re lazy! You’re sloppy! You’re useless! How many truly lazy, sloppy and useless people do you know? Really lazy, sloppy, and useless? At everything? You see, we tend to procrastinate on some things but not everything. And that’s why there’s hope.
Did I mention I was a recovering procrastinator?
I’m not sure if a normally functioning human being can be free of procrastination habits. I think the best we can do is grow our awareness of the problem and work consciously and deliberately to minimise the impact on our lives.
My awareness of my own procrastination was raised as I began to progress in my career and found that there could be ‘serious’ consequences from my inaction. I began to get curious as to why I would immediately tackle certain problems or opportunities but actively avoid others. I began to look for some answers. I observed other people. I started to do some research. And it’s still going. I’ve read dozens of books on this topic. Listened to hundreds of hours of audiobooks and seminars. Spent thousands of hours trying out different techniques and systems and tools. A lot of that time was spent procrastinating. It’s time to share some of that experience.
As I became more experienced in the training of business people in recent years, I knew I’d like to work with people in the area of overcoming procrastination. I began to dream how I might create my own materials, my own workshops, my own programmes. I know it sounds corny, but I just haven’t got around to it. Until now.
The first Smarter Egg Overcoming Procrastination programme begins on September 23rd 2009 in Cork, Ireland. This programme will draw on all of my experiences and acquired skills in the area of presentation, facilitation and coaching. It is designed for business people who are frustrated with procrastination. It is designed to raise their awareness of how and why they procrastinate and to provide them with the means to tackle the problem.
There, I’ve said it. September 23rd is the date. I’m no longer procrastinating on launching this programme. (But I’m still in recovery).