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Living in Procrasta Nation

If you had asked me if I was a citizen of Procrasta, I would have protested loudly.  I tend to be results driven – if anything, too prone to action.  But two recent events have led me to believe, that I am indeed a member of the Procrasta Nation.

One was the updating of my mailing list.  I’ve been in business for almost 20 years now, and in all that time, I haven’t done a serious update of my list.  Sure, when things were returned by good ol’ USPS, I updated them.  Or if I was aware someone changed jobs, of course.  But I knew that over the years, people had retired, businesses had moved, etc.  But it always seemed too time-consuming to verify it all!  Better to just get the newsletter out there!  Do something!  Updating the database seemed like such a time waster.  (In my defense, I tried to hire three different people to do it, but it’s a nuanced and tedious job.)  So I joined the Nation.

The second event is the evil pain in my lower back.  Yep, I should see a physical therapist.  Yes, I should stretch.  But who has time for that?  I’ve got my 5 miles to walk!  I’ve got work to do!  Stretching doesn’t burn any calories!  And who has time to drive to the therapist’s office and have them walk you through stuff you can do on your own?  Please.  I’ll stretch when I’m dead.  (Yep – words of a true citizen of Procrasta.)

Well, I decided to update a small segment of my list and what I found was horrifying.  Many, many people have retired; some have passed away; and some are in jail!  (Apparently I speak to lots of embezzlers.)  By putting this task off for so long, I’ve lost touch with some valuable people.

As for the back pain – yeah, you can see this one coming.  It just gets worse.  And since it’s gotten worse, now I’m going to have to stretch more and spend more time in physical therapy.

So what does this have to do with you?  Well, dear reader, I suspect that in some areas of your life, you are a member of the Nation as well.  In fact, I’m going to ask you to do a Procrasta Nation life audit right now.

Here are the major areas I want you to consider:

  • Your housing
  • Your health
  • Your relationships
  • Your work
  • Your finances
  • Your dreams

I’m going to give you some examples to get you going.  Housing – have some clutter you’ll deal with someday?  If you’re living in the Nation, it will just get worse.  Need to do some repairs around the house?  Ditto.  Health – been putting off going to the dentist or the doctor?  Ignoring those symptoms?  The longer you live in the Nation, the worse it will get.  Who has time to

work on relationships?  You’ll have that talk with your kids about _____ when the time is right.  Your work?  Yeah, you’ll ask for a promotion, get that certification/advanced degree, look for another job after this big project is over.  And your skills will continue to deteriorate.  Your finances?  Lots of livin’ in the Nation here.  Saved enough to retire?  And your dreams?  Easy to put those on the back burner.  If you’re living in the Nation like me, your back will hurt so much, your only dream will be a lifetime supply of Aleve and no liver damage.

Here’s what I want for you – learn from my mistakes.  I procrastinate because I want fast results.  I’m cutting the tree down and not taking the time to sharpen the saw (yeah, yeah, I didn’t listen Stephen Covey).  I’m in the Nation right now – trying to get this newsletter written and planning to stretch tonight.  (It just seems so nonproductive!)  I think many of you are like me – you procrastinate on the things that in the long run are huge but seem like time wasters in the short term.  If you procrastinate long enough, you’ll ultimately have to spend much more time, money, etc.  Living in the Nation is for suckers.

So what do you do?

1.) Conduct the life audit.  Figure out where you’ve been procrastinating.  I bet you don’t procrastinate in all areas.

2.) Learn from your procrastinating.  Are you like me?  Too action-oriented?  Looking for the immediate result (get the newsletter out) instead of considering the long term (make sure the list is accurate).  I also don’t love detail work.  Maybe you’re the opposite and love detail work so much, you procrastinate by spending too much time perfecting the database and never write the newsletter!

3.) Break it down.  Researching 2500 people took a lot of time.  I decided every night I would spend two hours on it.  I also set a deadline for the whole project so it didn’t drag on forever.

4.) Prioritize.  Isn’t your health kind of a big deal?  I made the time to finally go get all my recommended exams (seemed like such a waste of time – the driving, the waiting, ugh!!).  But how much more time might it take if I have health issues I don’t address early?  Like the back pain and the annoying hour of stretching I now need to do every day!

5.) Try to realize more progress is made by taking the time to sharpen the stupid saw.  This is me – “Geez, by the time you’ve sharpened your saw, I’ve cut down a tree!  Sharpening is so lazy – get in there and cut!   Get the newsletter out – you’ve wasted all this time checking addresses and doing no marketing!  Make something happen!”  Yeah, like mailing to criminals and dead people is effective.  And sawing with a dull blade?  No wonder my back hurts.

Don’t be me.  Escape Procrasta Nation.

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