June 22, 2010
Control Procrastination with “Integrity to Self”
Integrity to Self” is a strategy that can eliminate and control procrastination at home and in the workforce. It all starts and ends with those boxes and nine or so lines on your electronic or paper calendar. Each line and box represents the opportunity to test your integrity to yourself. Here is an example. You have wanted to clear the clutter in your garage for many weeks. Cleaning the garage is a chore that is important and of high value to you, but it’s not urgent. In other words, no one else but you and your immediate family will be looking at the mess. Now, it’s a year later and the clutter remains. This is a typical description of procrastination.
What’s happening is called “the tyranny of the urgent,” when chance, not choice, dictates our outcomes. Sometimes that chance is dictated by a corporate culture locked in the old school command and control model. You may recognize this culture by its permanent urgency and perpetual distractions. During our workshops, this is evident when I suggest turning off your e-mail ringer and alarms, checking your e-mail no more than four times a day, and making your Calendar your default opening window in Microsoft Outlook and Lotus Notes.
The class pushback begins with, “you just don’t understand how we work around here.” My answer is: yes I do. In a command and control culture there is a loss of creativity and innovation. This same culture creates less capacity for focus on high priority, high value, less urgent work that can move the company forward. There is always less time available to reflect and think long term while projects and opportunities continue to get postponed. Frustrated, overworked workers abound with no real work/life balance. All in all, the work force is less engaged. The reality is this pattern continues to repeat itself over and over, day in and day out in organizations throughout the world
Don’t just take my word that there is a disengaged workforce directly related to procrastination and no integrity to self. In a 2007-2008 study by Towers Perrins of 90,000 workers in 18 countries, it was revealed that only 20% of workers feel fully engaged. Fully engaged means that they go above and beyond what is required of them because they have a sense of purpose and passion about what they’re doing. It also found 38% were disenchanted or disengaged.
Now most people you talk with will say this is a time management problem. Type in the words “time management” into a Google search and you get 215,000,000 hits. With that much advice, you would think the problem would be solved. No, it is much more complex than attempting to manage an irreplaceable asset like time. Everyone, including me, has 86,400 seconds or 1440 minutes in a day. God in His infinite wisdom gave each of us the same number so it would be fair. It’s how you choose to use those seconds that count. If you choose to use them to control your calendar and eliminate procrastination, great things can happen. Here are two examples. Edison had enough seconds in a day to invent the light bulb and relativity. With that many seconds Bill Gates gathered up thirty five billion dollars and keeps adding to that amount with every second that passes.
Some will decry it’s not fair that some do so well and we have nothing. Not true! What is not fair is that those making that claim choose to procrastinate and not use those boxes on their calendar in a proactive way to eliminate obstacles to their success. You can overcome any and all obstacles, from mental and physical, today. But you first have to stop saying “it’s not fair!” and next make a decision to tap your potential. You have to realize that procrastination is just a decision not made. Make a decision that choice, not chance, will determine your destiny by committing to daily, weekly, monthly and yearly planning. Make sure all your decisions are linked to personal interests, attitudes, and values. Learn how to say no based on the appointments you place on those boxes everyday as an appointment with yourself.
Do you want to clear that clutter in your garage or in your office? You can, by making an appointment with the most important person in your organization –YOU. Then, have enough integrity to yourself to keep it.
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