Ever tried posting a parking ticket on eBay?
Well, in 2013, a British fellow named David Fern successfully did just that. Posting his £65 (valued at approximately $100) ticket, he acknowledged his guilt, but stated his hope that someone in a better financial state could relieve him of the fine and "smile for several days knowing they did a great thing."
Sadly, one of my close business associates didn't get that lucky. Having previously received a ticket or two, he put them in a pile on his desk, made a mental note to eventually fight them the following week, and, one expensive towed car later, learned a lesson about the importance of paying parking tickets promptly.
Fines and penalties aside, we can all derive a poignant insight about the terrible, yet all-too-common effects of procrastination.
As normal human beings, we tend to avoid difficult situations. We stubbornly and creatively come up with different ways to hem and haw, hoping the problem will somehow go away on its own.
Procrastination is not, as most people think, due to laziness. Far from it. Rather, it is the result of fear, a general uneasiness to face the obstacles and challenges in our way.
It's critical, therefore, to address our problems immediately. Because when we finally do get around to dealing with the problem, it's much harder to fix. Just ask my associate. Instead of paying a minor ticket, he dropped a chunk of change in towing, impound and release fees.
So let's take a look at a couple of practical ways to combat that pesky productivity killer:
1. See thyself
I always tell my clients and team members (and certainly myself!) that the key to overcoming challenges in life is to get to know that person in the mirror. Understand what you want to accomplish, and how procrastination is affecting your ability to achieve those goals. Now go ahead and write 'em down.
2. Start small
Don't try to get everything done all at once. Trust me, this will only make things worse. Instead, break up your to-do list into small increments, divided by difficulty. Start accumulating some easy "wins", build that momentum, and by the time you get to the larger, more cumbersome items, you'll be able to meet them head on.
3. Spread the word
Procrastination is really a battle with yourself. The best way to combat it? Get others involved. They can help you map out a course of action, and ensure you stay accountable and committed. I'll be the first to admit--this is not easy. Telling others your shortcomings and, yes, even your goals and aspirations is a tremendously personal step. But boy, is it effective.
4. Save the date
Set a consistent time to check in with your "procrastination protector", where you can review the benchmarks you've established. But do this seriously. Don't check in via a quick text, email, or any other informal means of communication. Ideally, these reviews should be done in-person, face-to-face, but a phone call also does the trick.
Procrastination can be beaten, but never conquered. It's a clever little devil, appearing in a litany of disguises. Combating procrastination is an uphill climb, and there will be some ups and downs.
Don't get discouraged. Just keep sticking to the plan you created. When we choose not to avoid, but to meet obstacles head-on, the opportunities to succeed are endless.