Waiting as a Conscious Choice

If you're super-organized like me, getting things done and off your to-do list is one of the things you live for. Getting things done ahead of time is even better and deserves an extra pat on the back. That's why reading Rory Vaden's chapter on procrastination in his book Procrastinate on Purpose was so mind bending. (I first introduced his book in my previous post.)

Multipliers, the people Rory writes about, make the most of the very finite resource of time and have figured out that there is an opportunity cost to doing things too quickly. Details may change, priorities may change, requirement may change...so by doing it early, you actually end up having to do it twice!

Since time is finite, in addition to determining whether something can be eliminated, automated, or delegated, you also have to decide whether something can wait. If it can, without jeopardizing results or quality, then let it wait until the answer to that question is no. Sometimes it will wait until you can batch it with other similar tasks to become more efficient (e.g., responding to e-mails every hour instead of every minute); other times the task may resolve itself and/or be postponed so many times, that you realize you can eliminate or delegate it. Either way, you can focus your present time on what cannot be delayed and what you yourself must do now.

I am still mentally coming to terms with this. I pride myself on responding to e-mails quickly, being ahead of schedule, and being on top of things. I've recently found myself forced to aggressively prioritize what I do and when since with a side business, my to-dos are now never ending. This has forced me to adopt what Rory wrote about without being aware of it.

For the first time in my life, I have short-term and long-term to-do lists and am okay with not getting everything done on a daily basis. There are times when I don't get to things that I actually should—one too many missed gym visits—but I don't beat myself about it as much as I used to. I just try to learn from it and be better about how I schedule my time going forward.

The one thing I have finally done after reading this is to turn off the volume on my laptop and phone when I'm doing work that requires concentration, so that I'm not distracted by incoming e-mail. Responding to e-mails when I'm trying to write, proofread, research, etc. has an opportunity cost. I knew this before but Rory made me realize how shortsighted my stubbornness was.

Well, it's never too late to learn and it's never too late to do better.

What can you delay until the time is right? 


Karina is VP of Operations and HR at 24/7 Teach.

Originally posted on Business Common Sense blog.

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