Friday, April 4, 2008

Procrastination Can Work For You

I believe it was E.W. Scripps who said "Never do today what you can put off for tomorrow. In fact, if you can put it off, it's probably not worth doing at all." At first glance, this may seem like a counter-productive piece of advice. It is actually among his 12 points for success, and quite profound.

How can procrastination lead to success? First of all, you have to have clear goals and be actively working toward them. Each day, make a list of the things you would like to accomplish that day. Now prioritize them. At the end of the day, look at what you've actually accomplished versus your list. The undone portion may become part of tomorrow's list, or other priorities may move them down the line even further.

It's important to reconcile your behavior with your stated goals. Sometimes this means you should change your behavior. Sometimes it means that your stated goals aren't actually your goals. Did your list of accomplishments reflect someone working toward financial well-being or were you working on some other agenda? Acceptance? Validation? Revenge? Take an objective look at your own behavior and see if there may be some sub-conscious issues influencing your decision making process.

It's possible that these sub-conscious issues need to be top priority, but they should be addressed consciously for maximum efficiency. It may also be that you are burning time and resources on trivial issues without being aware of it. Become aware of it and stop doing it.

If you continually tell yourself and others that something is very important to you, but it never seems to make it to the top of the "to-do" list, your own behavior is telling you that it's not nearly as important to you as you think it is or as you would like others to believe it is. Either take it off the list, or get it done, right now.

The key, as always, is awareness. Self-observation and analysis can help you discover what is really important to you. Once you have determined that, you can focus your attention and resources on achieving what you really want to achieve. It's not as simple as it sounds. It takes continual awareness and evaluation. We don't always know what it is we really want or need, and the answers often change over time.

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