Jeff felt terrible. Worse than terrible. He felt unworthy, lazy and unproductive.
He felt as if he were letting God down. And himself. And others.
Why did he feel this way?
Because he had a hard time hitting deadlines with his college assignments.
As he talked to me Jeff justified himself, “I can work 14 hours a day landscaping, but I can’t seem to hand in anything on time at school. When I am under the gun I can produce great work with fantastic results, but without the urgency of a missed deadline, I find it hard to stay motivated.”
Jeff isn’t alone in this.
Many people have a hard time with procrastination and motivation, especially when the results of their efforts aren’t tangible-like planting trees or building a deck. I had no interest in heaping on guilt…or letting him off easy. If he continues to miss deadlines he will do poorly in school and it will seep into other areas of his life. People who consistently show up late, miss deadlines or fail to follow through soon lose trust and opportunities.
In short they lose influence. And influence is leadership.
Here’s was my advice to Jeff, and anyone who wrestles with procrastination:
- Mark your deadline one week early. This may sound childish, but after a while you will re-train yourself to get tasks accomplished early or on time, without pulling the dreaded all-nighter.
- Set an alarm. Work for 30 minutes, and then take a ten-minute break. Get up, stretch, drink a glass of water, and breath in some fresh air. Then repeat. The timer creates an urgency (I only have 30 minutes to do this) and also a reward (I can get something from the fridge in 27 minutes).
- Brainwork can be learned. It took me months of reading on a daily basis to form a habit that I have kept for the last 15 years. Sure, many times I’d rather be watching Netflix or surfing the interwebs, but the dedication has helped me prepare talks, sermons and lectures that have been the catalyst for change in many people.
Don’t put off until tomorrow what can easily be done today. You are not a procrastinator; you are a proactive leader in the rough!
Now quit surfing and get things done. Then you can relax!