Well, David Allen wrote and then made available to us his book, Getting Things Done. We’ve read it and studied it. We have begun the process of processing our “stuff” and now have our “Next Action” lists that are separated by context. There is work to be done. It’s planned and organized. Yet, for some inexplicable reason, we just don’t do it. The lists, though complete and organized, seem to grow rather than to diminish as the days go by. Oh, it’s not like this everyday; it seems to go in cycles. Some days the NA’s just melt from our list and on others, we can’t cross off a single one! Our periods of procrastination seem to stall us periodically. I find myself going through these, where some days click along like I’m in Dale Jr.’s #8 car zipping around Lowe’s Motor Speedway. Then there are those other days where I can’t buy a completed next action. So what’s up?
Marshall Cook, in his book, Time Management: Get More Done with Less Stress by Efficiently Managing Your Time, offers five reasons why we procrastinate:
- You haven’t really committed to doing the job – You don’t think it’s your job to do, think it’s someone else’s job, or think its a waste of time.
- You’re afraid of the job – Fear of failure, fear of success, or fear of finishing.
- You haven’t placed a high enough priority on the action – There’s always something else more important to do.
- You don’t know enough to do the task.
- You just plain don’t wanna.
As a former teacher, I tend to go back to Newton’s First Law of Motion: Every object in a state of uniform motion tends to remain in that state of motion unless an external force is applied to it. In simple terms, an object in motion (me or you) remains in motion (gets things done). It’s inverse is also true: an object at rest tends to stay at rest unless it is acted upon by another external force. This goes back to the old delegation adage that states if you want something done, give it to a busy man (an object in motion). In his post, The Availability Conundrum, Jeffrey Phillips, over at Thinking Faster, has also noted an increase in productivity when his Next Action list is full and a decrease when the list dwindles. In either case we all have to deal with procrastination from time to time.
So over the next few posts, I’ll explore ways to apply “external forces” that get us back in motion when something sidetracks us and we begin to “stay at rest”. To get out of procrastination, you have to have some tools in your tool box that will help you get the job done. I’ll share some of mine.