Today’s post was inspired by two things. First, my Toastmasters club meeting yesterday had a theme of “Last Minute.” During the meeting I decided this would make a great blog post. Further, I remembered one of those funny notes that float around the interwebs. Hat tip: The Procrastination Association
- I believe that if anything is worth doing, it would have been done already.
- I shall never move quickly, except to avoid more work or find excuses.
- I will never rush into a job without a lifetime of consideration.
- I shall meet all of my deadlines directly in proportion to the amount of bodily injury I could expect to receive from missing them.
- I firmly believe that tomorrow holds the possibility for new technologies, astounding discoveries, and a reprieve from my obligations.
- I truly believe that all deadlines are unreasonable regardless of the amount of time given.
- I shall never forget that the probability of a miracle, though infinitesimally small, is not exactly zero.
- If at first I don’t succeed, there is always next year.
- I shall always decide not to decide, unless of course I decide to change my mind.
- I shall always begin, start, initiate, take the first step, and/or write the first word, when I get around to it.
- I obey the law of inverse excuses which demands that the greater the task to be done, the more insignificant the work that must be done prior to beginning the greater task.
- I know that the work cycle is not plan/start/finish, but is wait/plan/plan.
- I will never put off until tomorrow, what I can forget about forever.
This is something we all do at some point. Even the most serial planners in the world have things they put off doing sometimes. There is actually some scientific study around it – if you have some spare time and want to take a deeper dive, here’s a good place to start. I will simply look at a few of the reasons why we do it, and some ways to get through it.
Fear of Failure – Simply put, if we think we will fail, we will put it off. Our fear can be external or internal. An external fear of failure would involve worry about others’ perception of us if we fail. Internal can be as simple as anxiety about disappointing ourselves. The more important the task is, the greater the potential to be paralyzed by the fear of failure. It can lead to not finishing a task, or not starting the task at all. The article linked to earlier states, “For example, someone might be so worried that their business idea will fail, that they end up continuing to work on it indefinitely, without ever making it available to the public.” Let’s look at it another way. See the picture on the right – we need to re-frame our interpretation of “failure” to something much more positive.
Perfectionism – Ah, yes, the old “it has to be perfect” thingy again. Writers can get caught up in this one. “If I claim to be a writer, and I publish something with so much as a semicolon missing, I look like the world’s biggest fool. Let me check for errors again.” Most people will not dismiss you as a fool for a small error or two. And if someone does point it out to you – and does so professionally – there’s nothing wrong with a little constructive feedback. We’re still human beings, no matter how hard we try no to be. And humans make mistakes. Once you own it and correct it, no mistake is the end of the world.
Task Aversion – We will put off a task if we expect it to be unpleasant. Examples of this would be if we expect the task to be frustrating, tedious or boring, or it may invoke some unpleasant feelings or actions. If we think we lack the skill to complete the task, we will also be averse to it. If you need to call someone you don’t get along with, you will be tempted to put that call off as long as you can, not wanting to have the bad feelings of interacting with this person, or the risk that some unpleasant words will be exchanged. If you feel there is a gap between your skill and the task, you will be very tempted to put it off, and you might combine it with the fear of failure.
If you have any of these situations in your business, it’s quite possible a Virtual Assistant can give you some much-needed help. If you don’t think you’re a good writer, a VA can create content for your blog, email list, social media accounts and your website. If you think that you are a good writer, but you get paralyzed by perfectionism, there are VAs that specialize in content writing that will lift that burden from your shoulders. If you consider bookkeeping an insomnia cure, you can bring in a VA to do it for you. At that point, you can then devote more energy to growing your business and being of greater service to your customers. Contact us to see how we can partner to make great things happen for your business.