I was giving a seminar on GRIT at the Littler law firm in San Jose, CA last week and one of the lawyers mentioned that procrastination was one of her areas that she needed more grit in. I didn’t have time to go into too much detail, so here’s the definitive blog on that. Hope it helps a lot of you.
So, here goes. Procrastination is the single most important time waster we have. Guess what is the number one area of procrastination? EXERCISE. Yes, we all know it is the “fountain of youth”, etc. etc. but how easy it is to drive right by the Gym on the way home. Now, there are some people out there that really like to exercise. We see them jogging along in the mornings and know that they are happy, healthy and skinny. We long to be there, happily running along side but can never quite get ourselves worked up enough to “just do it”.
Why, you ask, do humans put off even serious stuff that they know should be done? This even goes to things like not taking medication or going to the doctor for really serious stuff. A study showed that people who are on the edge of glaucoma and need to put drops in their eyes every night to keep it at bay, are only 80% compliant. Without the medication, glaucoma will develop. With the medication, it won’t. How bad is that?
The experts tell us we procrastinate for several reasons. First, we can be scared of what we might get into by doing it. Second, we really don’t like the task at hand. Third, we feel overwhelmed. Fourth, some people get a rush from waiting until the last minute. Fifth, having an unrealistic view of the time it takes to do a task. Sixth, having psychological or physical problems that makes it difficult to get things done. And last, striving for perfectionism which is unrealistic.
As attorneys, we know that procrastination can cause untold misery and regret. How about the attorney who blows statutes or always has to clean up messes that arise because motions or other work doesn’t get done on time. Most of us aren’t that bad, but procrastination does intrude in our lives and most of us could live without it or at least minimize it.
How about people in your life that drive you crazy because they procrastinate? How do you handle them? Also, some people only procrastinate in certain areas. Their home may be immaculate and the bills paid on time, but they can’t commit ( or decide not to commit) to anything really important, like marriage, having children, buying a new car, starting a practice, or changing a job.
Now comes the homework. Before my next week article which is going to contain some ways to start overcoming procrastination, write down the areas of your life. This will be things like
- Career Planning,
- and anything else you can think of
- Then write one thing in each of those areas that you are now procrastinating on doing. For instance, my very first one is “going to the gym three times a week, every week not just when I feel like it (which might be never)”. Then look at the seven things that might be holding you back from doing the task. Mine is number two . I don’t like to exercise. I have never felt any endorphins rushing and I get sweaty.
Try to find at least 5 of these specific procrastinations that you would like to tackle. Next blog we’ll get down to the nitty gritty and offer some solutions. The first one, of course, is something you’ve already done. You have recognized and identified TASKS that need doing and have written that down. Congratulations, you are on the road to procrastination free bliss……stay tune next week!