Procrastination. Get Naked If Necessary!
Hi! Welcome to this week's training. I want to discuss PROCRASTINATION.
Last night, I began mentoring a businesswoman in both the practical and the spiritual aspects of birthing and growing a business. It really is like raising a child. I was sharing my own struggles as a businesswoman and how God will show you things in your soul that He wants to address through your business.
One of the issues He revealed to me was that my tendency to procrastinate was due to perfectionism and fear. This surprised me because I dealt with perfectionism a long time ago by learning the difference between excellence and perfectionism. Excellence is doing the best with what you have but perfectionism is leaving no room for growth or mistakes.
The source of my procrastination was fear that I might fail and wanting to avoid failure in any way I could so I’d just not do the task at all! I then knew that my freedom was TO DO IMMEDIATELY WHAT I WANTED TO PROCRASTINATE. I don’t hit it 100% of the time, but it’s much better.
I also discovered that I tended to put off things that might be unpleasant or have negative news. I went for weeks hardly checking my mail because I didn’t want to deal with a tax issue. Procrastinating actually cost me a lot of time in that situation and made things harder. And ended up not as bad as I thought, which I have found happens 90% of the time.
So What Is Procrastination?
According to the dictionary, procrastinate means “to put off until another day or time.” Growing up my dad had a saying, “Why do today what you can do tomorrow?” This epitomizes procrastination. As I’ve shared so far, procrastination is a symptom of an underlying cause that if we’re aware of and have understanding, we can reduce or eliminate it altogether.
Everyone struggles with procrastination. For some, cramming everything you must do in the last few minutes or hours works. That deadline is the strongest motivator you’ve got.
But for others of us, that ONE THING YOU’VE BEEN PUTTING OFF IS LIKE A CLOUD HANGING OVER YOUR HEAD OR A CONSTANT NAGGING IN YOUR THOUGHTS CREATING STRESS. And still for others, deadlines don’t work. We simply push the deadline out farther.
Listen to this story about Leonardo Da Vinci from procrastinus.com:
Leonardo is known today as the supreme genius of the Italian Renaissance—but at the time he had a reputation as a daydreamer who never actually finished anything. No one doubts that he was a man of incredible talent. He explored almost every field available to him, in both science and art. He made significant contributions in engineering, architecture, biology, botany, anatomy, math, and physics. He sculpted, painted both portraits and murals, and made plans for ingenious machines that wouldn’t be built for centuries (e.g., planes, helicopters and submarines). But he also never finished a project on time.
Part of what made Leonardo such a “Renaissance Man” was that he was too easily distracted. His talents and energy were often wasted in doodles and unfinished projects. It took the painter 16 years to complete his most famous work, the Mona Lisa (also known as La Gioconda). He left both The Adoration of the Magi and Jerome in the Wilderness unfinished, took 13 years to complete the version of The Virgin of the Rocks in London’s National Gallery, and his equestrian projects were never built.
Leonardo only finished The Last Supper after his patron, Ludovico Sforza, Duke of Milan, threatened to cut off funds. According to one story, he was outraged when a prior from the monastery where he was painting the fresco complained about the delay. Leonardo wrote to the head of the monastery explaining he had been struggling to find the perfect villainous face for Judas, and that if he could not find an appropriate face, he would use the features of the prior who complained.
In his later years Leonardo regretted having “never having completed a single work.” He appealed to God, “Tell me if anything ever was done. Tell me if anything was done.” When he died in France in 1519, he left numerous sketches for unfinished projects in his codices.
This is incredible to me. In his later years, he regretted never completing a single work! I know one thing, I do NOT want to be in my sunset years regretting what I didn’t do because I procrastinated.
Step 1: Go Naked or Use Chains
So the first step is to ask WHY you’re putting something off. You guys have heard me discuss the 5 WHY’s exercise. Use that tool to get to the heart of the matter. Is it fear? Is it lack of know how? Is it perfectionism? Is it overwhelming because there’s too many details? Or a lack of skill? Is it an unpleasant task? Or boring? Or maybe you feel it’s just too hard. FIND YOUR WHY.
Then put in place something you can do when you find you’re tempted to procrastinate. Listen to how Victory Hugo dealt with procrastination from the same website:
The great French poet and novelist, whose masterpieces include the epic historical novels Les Misérables and The Hunchback of Notre Dame, had a unique method to stave off procrastination: he had his servant strip him naked in his study and not return with his clothes until the appointed hour.
Herman Melville, the author of Moby Dick, had his wife CHAIN him to his desk.
We all, as humans, tend to avoid difficult, unpleasant, and boring tasks. But the reality is we have to do them daily anyway. Laundry so you have clothes to wear unless you’re trying Victor Hugo’s technique. Then you won’t need them. Taking out the trash. Paying your utility bills. None of these are pleasant activities, but they must be done.
Watch Out for This!
In business, I’ve found one of the top ways we procrastinate is busy work, which is basically doing a bunch of stuff that doesn’t get us closer to our business goals. Or we answer the phone when our friend calls instead of working. Or we watch that last little bit of a Netflix show to distress so we can get back to work but instead we binge watch the entire series.
FIND YOUR WHY.
FIND YOUR CHAIN.
Or go naked. Do whatever you must to get that ONE THING done! So in closing, I’m going to switch up my dad’s saying, “Why do tomorrow what I can do today!”
1. Procrastination is usually a symptom not a cause.
2. Procrastination can cost you time and money.
3. Procrastination can be a source of stress for some of us because it’s that nagging thing we keep avoiding.
4. Find your why.
5. Find your chain that helps you do what you’re tempted to procrastinate.
6. Don’t use busy work as an excuse to not do what you know you should be doing.
7. If all else fails, go naked until you finish it.
If this training has blessed you, please share it from the blog at geniuscommunication.org/blog or invite others into our group.
I’ll see you next week!