I am going to stop putting things off starting tomorrow.” Sam Levenson

Procrastination is defined as the act of replacing high priority and important tasks with tasks of a lower importance, or delaying the actioning of important tasks to a later time. Procrastination may occur for a number of reasons, including the fear of failure, anxiety in starting or completing tasks, the need for an adrenalin hit as a result of self-imposed working under pressure, ineffective decision-making, perfectionism and ‘planning fallacy’, which means underestimating the amount of time required to complete a set of tasks.

Procrastination is very common amongst the population with many people procrastinating to some extent. Humans generally have a tendency to replace important tasks with tasks that are more familiar or fun to perform. Chronic procrastination is a more severe form that can be very damaging to a person’s life or career.

A number of steps can be implemented to manage or deal with procrastination:

  1. Recognising that you are procrastinating – You need to be honest with yourself in order to recognise that you are procrastinating. Characteristics of procrastination include: focusing on low value tasks and actions, being engulfed by your emails throughout the day, getting ready to begin an important task and becoming immediately distracted, waiting for the perfect conditions to begin a project, and keeping tasks on your To Do list for some time even though they were marked as ‘important’.
  2. Understanding the reason why you procrastinate – The mind has a tendency to convince yourself that a valid reason exists to procrastinate, often involving subconsciously lying to yourself. The reasons why you procrastinate could be due to either the type of work involved or your beliefs and behaviour. One of the reasons why people procrastinate may involve the work not being interesting, or a feeling of being overwhelmed by the tasks. Other reasons can include being disorganised which can result in anxiety in starting or completing tasks, or having a fear of failure/success stopping you from engaging the work. Being a perfectionist will also result in procrastination because perfectionists wait for the right conditions before they begin a task, or they try to achieve  the most perfect outcome thereby never actually completing the task. The final reason for procrastination relates to ‘planning fallacy’, which means underestimating the amount of time required to complete a set of tasks resulting in a delayed or slow start to actioning tasks, thereby escalating the required effort towards the end of the deadline. This is common with many university students who undertake assignments and examination preparation, and is often labelled as ‘Student Syndrome”. No matter how much time is provided for the student to complete their assignment they will take all the available time and end up cramming all the work just before the due date for the assignment.
  3. Implementing strategies to deal with procrastination – A number of strategies can be employed to deal with procrastination:
  • Keep a To Do list and ensure that you complete the required tasks quickly and efficiently
  • Break down the activities into manageable tasks in the form of an action plan that can be tackled quickly and easily
  • Utilise an Urgent/Important Matrix to identify high value tasks

  • Implement a reward system that is linked to the completion of important tasks
  • Start some easy tasks every day to fuel your momentum, which then allows you to tackle the larger more important tasks
  • Focus on goal setting, scheduling and planning to streamline your project management skills
  • Employ a mentor or coach to help you overcome procrastination or to encourage you to maintain your momentum on a particular project
  • Tackle the worst task in the whole To Do list first thing in the morning (e.g. Brian Tracy says ‘Eat the Frog’ – since this is the worst thing you could do everything else should be easy to undertake)
  • Repeat the cycle for 20 days so that it becomes a new habit

The longer you spend time without procrastination the better chance of breaking the habit.

Dr John Kapeleris

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Having a well articulated and proven implementation process will ensure that any system, plan or method is implemented appropriately.  Implementation (or deployment) of a system, plan or method is commonly viewed as the execution of a series of related activities, each activity termed an implementation stage. Implementation is the action that follows any preliminary thinking in order for something to actually be achieved. The implementation approach will be dependent on the particular system, plan or method being deployed, however, a number of broad steps can be used to guide an implementation process, including:

  1. Initiation – Determine the key strategic objectives of the implementation plan.
  2. Key Processes or Activities – Identify the key processes or activities required. You may need to investigate the “as is” processes (current situation) and then design the “to be” processes (desired situation) that may be required; particularly when new processes are being considered through a change management or process improvement initiative.
  3. Identify Tasks – Under each process identify the tasks that need to be completed in order to achieve the strategic objectives. Undertaking a Risk Analysis at this stage will ensure that any risks are identified and a risk management plan, with contingencies, is developed.
  4. Action Steps – Each task may be subdivided into further individual sub-tasks or action steps. Breaking down the tasks into smaller sub-tasks allows focus and therefore easier implementation.
  5. Assign Responsibility – The next step is to assign responsibility for each sub-task to a specific human resource. The human resources may be internal or external. The assignment of the task should reflect the best person able to complete or deliver the task. The composition of the team is important for successful implementation.
  6. Prioritize – Activities or tasks need to be prioritised to reflect the most important tasks that need to be completed, or specific tasks that need to be actioned before other tasks can begin. Some tasks can be scheduled in parallel to reduce the overall time.
  7. Timeline – The time required to complete each task must be estimated in advance. The forecast will need to be as realistic as possible, but allow some flexibility should any issues arise. The addition of the time required to complete all tasks will translate to the total project time.
  8. Cost & Budget – The costs to complete each task must be calculated in advance and an overall budget should be assigned for the implementation plan. Costs should not only include time, but also additional resources or tools required during the implementation stages.
  9. Do It! – The key to successful implementation is taking action and executing the assigned tasks as outlined in the implementation plan. This step is always crucial for successful implementation.
  10. Review and evaluate – Finally, the implementation plan will require continuous monitoring and review to evaluate progress. Any issues or delays encountered will require modification of the original implementation plan.

The action plan template can be used as a tool to assist with recording actions and tasks, assigning responsibility, confirming the due date and setting priorities.

“Success comes from transforming thoughts and ideas into action”.

Dr John Kapeleris

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“Invest time, don’t just spend it, because lost time will not be found again”. John KapelerisImagine there is a bank that credits your account each morning with $86,400. It carries over no balance from day to day. Every morning the bank deletes whatever part of the balance you failed to use during the day. What would you do? Draw out every cent, of course!!!!

 

Each of us has such a bank. Its name is TIME. Every morning, it credits you with 86,400 seconds. Every night it writes off, as lost, whatever of this you have failed to invest to good purpose. It carries over no balance. It allows no overdraft. Each day it opens a new account for you. Each night it burns the remains of the day. If you fail to use the day’s deposits, the loss is yours.

 

There is no going back. There is no drawing against the “tomorrow”. You must live in the present on today’s deposits. Invest it so as to get the utmost in health, happiness and success! The clock is running. MAKE THE MOST OF TODAY.

 

To realise the value of ONE YEAR, ask a student who failed a grade.

To realise the value of ONE MONTH, ask a mother who gave birth to a premature baby.

To realise the value of ONE WEEK, ask the editor of a weekly newspaper.

To realise the value of ONE HOUR, ask the lovers who are waiting to meet.

To realise the value of ONE MINUTE, ask the person who missed the train.

To realise the value of ONE SECOND, ask the person who just avoided an accident.

To realise the value of ONE MILLISECOND, ask the athlete who won a silver medal in the Olympics.

 

Treasure every moment that you have! And treasure it more because you shared it with someone special, special enough to invest your time. And remember that time waits for no one. Yesterday is history. Tomorrow is a mystery. Today is a gift. That’s why it’s called the present!!!

 

I hope you enjoyed the above passage from an anonymous author. The key message is to ensure we invest our time in worthwhile activities that contribute to our goals, objectives and personal development. We have many distractions in today’s digital world, including television, pay TV, downloadable digital movies, the internet, DVDs and mr bean games, in addition to the plethora of low-value reality TV shows. I am not saying to completely avoid the digital world, but to engage it in moderation. Why not try the following instead:

 

  • Invest more time reading books and articles, and listening to audiobooks
  • Use time to plan and implement new ideas and opportunities
  • Have a week free of any digital media
  • Allocate time for disciplined exercise
  • Invest time connecting with people who can help you reach your goals

 

Remember if we waste time then we cannot get it back.

 

Dr John Kapeleris

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We have now reached the middle of the calendar year which is a good time to review your major goals and objectives that were set at the start of the year, and determine progress along your personal development journey. I challenge you to allocate some time and action this important task. Your goals, objectives and personal action plan are not set in stone. Circumstances change and new opportunities emerge that you need to consider and build into your plan.

If you have maintained a journal to document your action plans for your major goals and objectives, and tracked your journey and progress, then this will be the first place to start. Alternatively you may have your action plan documented in electronic format or you may be using a task list. Review the action plan for each of the goals and objectives that your set to determine your progress; whether you need to focus and give more attention and time to your plan, or whether you need to revise or delete a particular action plan. Add a review note next to each action or task. I usually use a “Status” column where I add the words: Completed, On target, On hold, Needs revision, Delete task or New task. If a task or action needs to be revised then I document the necessary changes. Most of my revisions relate to the due date for the task or action, particularly for goals that were over ambitious, which is common amongst high achievers.

If you have missed certain opportunities then you should ask yourself, “What could I have done differently to capitalise on the missed opportunities that would have added value to my personal and professional life?”, and document potential changes and actions for the future. This could include learnings such as:

  • Focus on the specific goal or action,
  • Allocate more time to a particular goal,
  • Take action – “Just Do It”,
  • Invest more time to personal development instead of wasting time on non-value activities, and
  • Seek assistance from mentors, peers or role models

I also review my journal entries that I have recorded, particularly the ideas and information I have captured over the last six months. The ideas and information can be quite valuable for further reflection and implementation. Who knows; one of your ideas might be the next “blockbuster” product, service or business opportunity! The recent review of my journal entries identified thirteen new business opportunities that I have extracted and recorded separately. I am now in the process of developing individual goals and action plans for each of the business opportunities. Many of the action plans will concentrate on undertaking further research followed by conducting a feasibility for the business opportunity, while other action plans will be in the form of implementation plans.

As I have stated previously “The rest of your life starts now!”, therefore focus on your future goals and plans, and don’t spend time regretting the missed opportunities of the past.

What does your revised personal development plan or life plan look like?

Good luck and I wish you every success for the remainder of 2010!

Dr John Kapeleris

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Most people don’t have any idea on how to achieve success. Our education system does not cover the basic principles of success or personal development.  It assumes that these skills will be learned through on the job training. If you were fortunate enough to have had a mentor or have read books on success or enrolled in personal development courses then you would not have been exposed to the basic principles of success. While undertaking the “Maximize Your Performance” course through the Brian Tracy University I came across a very simple approach to maintaining self discipline and achieving success. Brian Tracy uses the acronym “GREAT” to describe five elements to achieving success:

  • Goal – orientation
  • Result – orientation
  • Excellence – orientation
  • Action – orientation
  • Time – orientation

Further details of each element are outlined below:

Goal orientation

  1. Decide what you want – Identify your major definite purpose (an organizing or major goal)
  2. Write it down
  3. Set a deadline – Setting a deadline programs your goal into your subconscious mind.
  4. Make a plan – Place a foundation under your goal
  5. Get Busy – Do something every day towards achieving your goals. Develop a sense of momentum. The difference between successful people and unsuccessful people is what they do, not what they say.

Result Orientation

  1. Identify key result areas – Outcomes you wish to accomplish
  2. Determine standards of performance, for example excellence, professional, customer oriented, high quality
  3. Focus on the highest value tasks
  4. 80/20 Rule – What are the 20% of things that I need to do that account for 80% of my results?
  • Make a list of all the things or activities you need to do and circle only the 2-3 things that are the most important
  • Discipline yourself to do the 2-3 things that are important

Excellence Orientation (be the best)

  1. Identify critical success factors
  • Generally 5-7 critical success factors for each job
  • For examples a sales role will require the following critical success factors: Prospecting, Presenting, Accessing referrals, Closing, Managing time, Building relationships

      2.   Core competencies – Special skills you bring to the market place

  • Top 10% – What is required of you to be in the top ten percent?
  • What one skill, if you developed it to an excellent level, would have the greatest single positive impact on your life?

Action Orientation (# 1 Quality of Success)

  1. Move fast on opportunities, problems and ideas
  2. Develop a sense of urgency (Do it now!)
  3. Fast tempo is absolutely essential to success
  4. Launch – Take action immediately
  • Willing to launch and take action to move forward without guarantees

      5.   Act as if it were impossible to fail.

Time Orientation

  1. Plan your work and work your plan
  • Spend time up front to plan (saves you significant time down the track)

      2.    Make a list

  • Working off a list saves 25% of time.

      3.    Set priorities on your list

  • Use the following guide plan:

         A – must do

         B – should do

         C – nice to do

         D – delegate

         E – eliminate  

      4.   Concentrate single-mindedly on your highest value task

      5.   Stay with it until it is 100% complete

Make it a great day, every day!

Dr John Kapeleris

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