Why You Don't Get Things Done - And How You Can!
We humans are a funny lot. We are so diverse that any
generalization usually has more exceptions than you can count.
And that generalization is no different!
Having said that, let's look at some of the underlying reasons
why we procrastinate and prevaricate.
1. I'm bored.
2. That looks more interesting.
3. It is too hard.
4. I'm afraid of failure.
5. I'm afraid of success.
6. I'm not worthy.
Not an exhaustive list, perhaps, but probably six of the most
common reasons for not getting things done.
In order to really start achieving your potential, you must
first analyze yourself to determine which of the factors (or
which combination) apply to you.
Only then can you start to construct strategies to combat them.
In general, though, the solutions are either internal or
external. If you find that you are a person who needs help in
finishing a task, that help must either come from yourself or
Internal spurs are such things as the promise of a reward when
the job is done - a candy bar or a new outfit, you have to
decide what is a fitting reward for yourself.
External spurs tend to be of the 'keep me honest' kind. Appoint
a close friend with whom you can share your plans. This person
becomes the guardian of your honesty and will call you regularly
while your project is in hand, to check on progress and to keep
you on track. It may sound very simple, but it works.
The secret to either the internal or external motivation is in
setting realistic goals.
"How do you eat an elephant? - One bite at a time."
A friend's son was panicking recently because he had been set a
project at college which had thrown his mind into turmoil.
"I've got to write a 100 page project on the history of
automotive design," he told me despondently, "and I've only got
4 weeks to complete it!"
"Can you think of 28 different subject headings?" I asked him.
"Sure, that's easy ... different design styles, the history of
design, materials developments, what has sold and what hasn't
... gosh, there are at least ten famous designers that I can
think of off the top of my head who should be included ...
that's part of the problem - it is way too complicated!"
"Here is what you do," I answered. "Spend an hour right now
writing down every topic you might want to cover. Don't leave
anything out. It doesn't matter if you reach hundreds. Then,
when you've got them all down, group them together so that they
come under the headings 'who', 'what', 'why', 'where' and
'when'. Your goal is to end up with not one huge, daunting
project, but 28 tiny, easy ones. Then, when you have done that,
get out your diary and put one mini project against each day for
the next 28 days. Work it out - each mini project will need
about 4 pages work from you. Can you manage 4 pages?"
"Sure, 4 pages is easy."
And that was what he did. I called him once a week for the next
4 weeks to check his progress, but he didn't really need much
help. Just the knowledge that I was going to call on Saturday
morning kept him on track.
His 100 page project ended up at 130 pages in the end. And not a
single page of it was waffle. He handed it on time and received
an 'A' for his efforts.
All that goes to show that the solution is inside you all the
time, but sometimes it just need a little help fighting past the
panic that pushes it back inside.
A big task is the ultimate in panic inducers. So don't do big
tasks ... do lots of small ones. You will spend a lot less time
fretting and a lot more time being constructive. And you'll have
more time to relax.
The wise old bird, Seneca spoke the truth when he said, "While
we are postponing, life speeds by."