Procrastination. Why do we do it? How do we beat it? Do you have certain things that you procrastinate about? Or are you a general procrastinator where nothing is exempt? Either way, if it's time to get something done, Action Day will help.
Do you have a growing list of little, tedious tasks? You know, the one where eventually things just fall off the list because they're no longer relevant? I sure can't rake the leaves once the snow covers them all up! And there are the large, daunting projects that sound like a great idea at first. But the longer they wait the more the inspiration dwindles and we begin to wonder if we'll ever get them done.
Sometimes we simply need a little inspiration, encouragement, and support to make a dent in these things. So plan an Action Day with a friend or peer; you'll be amazed at the results. Ready? Here's how:
Choose your projects for the day. Be reasonable; don't set yourself up to fail. You and your Action Day partner will each identify one big project or many smaller projects that have been lurking in the back of your mind. Do you need to clean the office? Is there a book inside of you begging to be released? Have you written the outline yet? What project or projects are going to bring the most relief and satisfaction once they're complete?
Approximate the Time Needed.
If you're working on a list of items, determine the approximate amount of time you need to complete each task, or each step for larger items. Write that time next to each item on your list. If you have more than 6 hours worth of time allocated, break the list into parts with the most important items targeted for this Action Day. You can schedule another Action Day next week or next month.
Find Your Action Day Partner.
This person is someone who will keep you accountable to your goals, inspire and motivate you when you hit a bump in the road, and cheer you on as you make your way through your list. Your partner has a positive attitude and is a good listener. Don't know anyone like that? Sure you do. Think about people in your leads group or your community. This does not have to be a close friend or business buddy. You can approach an acquaintance with this idea – go ahead, put yourself out there. Chances are they'll enjoy speaking to someone who confesses to procrastination. Sometimes people see their tendency to procrastinate as a dirty little secret – get it out there!
Create the Leverage and Make the Plan.
Now exchange lists and discuss with one another why the things on the Action Day list are important to you. Why do you want to get them done? What will change once these things are finally done? Knowing these answers will give the "action buddy" the tools to motivate and encourage you throughout your Action Day.
Determine dates with your Action Day partner. It's best if you can choose separate days so that you and your partner can remain focused on your goals on your Action Day and visa versa. Your partner needs to be available for 5-10 minutes every hour on the hour so that you can report in by telephone. These conversations should be brief, to the point, and very honest. It's okay to admit if you're not staying focused; it's your partner's job to help you remember why your tasks are important to you and bring you back to focus. (Remember your earlier discussion.) It's also okay to celebrate success. As you achieve your goals, don't take it lightly. Acknowledge your success and if you are the "action buddy" for the day, make sure you reinforce your partner's achievement and the significance of that achievement. Remind them of why it was important for them to achieve their tasks and of how much this success really means to them. Celebrate the moment!
Begin your Action Day with exercise. Do something that gets your energy level up. Eat a healthy, protein-filled breakfast and report in with a phone call to your Action Day partner. This is a 10-minute phone call to let them know that you are taking action on the first item(s) on your list. If you have any hesitation, fear, anxiety, or dread, tell your partner how that feels and why you're not going to let it get in the way. Ask for help! Tell your partner that you need to hear some words of encouragement. When it's your turn to motivate and inspire, offer the words that will get your partner moving, some helpful, supportive, direction and inspiration. Let them know that you're there for them throughout the day and if they get "stuck" you are only a phone call away.
Remember; check in every hour on the hour. Set your alarm and give a call to your partner to let them know what level of success you've had over the past hour. If you're organizing and you've gotten caught up in reading old newspaper clippings – tell them. This is just another form of procrastination and you probably need a reminder of that to get you moving again. Keep busy in constructive ways. Stay focused and on one task at a time. Keep your energy and attitude up. Keep your eye on the end-goal – completion!
Marla Tabaka is a small-business advisor who helps entrepreneurs around the globe grow their businesses well into the millions. She has over 25 years of experience in corporate and start-up ventures and speaks widely on combining strategic and creative thinking for optimum success and happiness.