Many of us have had our big summer holidays and are back at work thinking, 'what can I change so that I don't end up exhausted just before my next holiday?' A quick answer - be a better procrastinator!
You thought procrastination was a naughty word, didn't you? You're only partly right. Negative procrastination - putting off until tomorrow that which should be done today - is an energy-sapper. It occurs when we allow trivia to block us from having a fulfilled, happy and productive life.
On the other hand, creative procrastination is good. I love explaining it - a bit like telling people that chocolate can be good for them! Creative procrastination is deliberate - planning and scheduling time for our own use. It can also be very useful when we push back on low-level tasks in order to stay focused on higher-value activities.
My definition of creative procrastination is:
Putting off until tomorrow that which won't advance your life plan by being done today.
It is also the planned and deliberate gift of prime time to yourself regularly; doing what gives you greatest satisfaction, including not doing anything if that is your choice.
It is learning how to leave undone those things which didn't really need to be done, so that you achieve balance and satisfaction in your life.
Over the last 40-50 years there's been an increasing focus on commercialism, frenetic energy, the making of the quick buck, a sense of urgency - that not a minute must be wasted lest we miss an opportunity to progress further, faster, higher.
Today's challenging business environment does nothing to reduce that pressure. Instead, since the increasingly rapid digital explosion we now live with, many people struggle with a constant sense of stress, pressure and overwhelm. They fight just to keep their head above water, let alone keep ahead of the game.
If you're in this category you might be thinking 'all very well to talk about slowing down, but I need to go faster!' Here's my take:
In order to go faster, first we must go slower
For too long, people have thought about 'time management' as just being more organised and efficient. (The free report mentioned below gives you a simple overview of the topic.)
Rather than 'time management', think of it as 'energy management'. And you might like to ask yourself the following questions:
• How effective am I when my energy is low?
• Do I work better and faster when I'm rested?
• When I'm fresh can I more easily see improvement opportunities for my processes and systems?
• When I'm tired or stressed, how resilient and able to handle difficult situations or people am I?
So, how to achieve this state of excellence?
By giving as much attention to health, relaxation, stress reduction and fun as we do to productivity and efficiency.
"Sometimes we simply need to unlearn our polarised belief that only work is important and realise that without refreshing, renewing play, we lower our capacity for high-quality work and our ability to enjoy life fully.";
('Time Management for Unmanageable People', McGee-Cooper & Trammell, 1994).
Maybe you've just set up a new business, or your business is struggling? You have to work your butt off just to pay the bills? Maybe you didn't even take a Christmas break? Or you did, but the pressure's already coming on again? When we're in set-up mode on something there is always a lot of hard work and long hours - that's a given. However, even in that situation it's still important to schedule in down-time.
• How many hours a week are you working?
• When is your next 2 or 3-day break scheduled? (With no work commitments and ideally with the mobile diverted to someone else - I call them 'Do Nothing' weekends).
• If nothing's scheduled yet, can you put something in the diary right now?
• If not, why not?
• Can you delegate some of the tasks you'd normally do - either internally or to an external contractor or support person?
• You might say 'can't afford it'. Can you afford not to? What will happen to your business if you have a major health crisis? Or a relationship crisis?
My recommendation - block out relaxation times at least every 6-8 weeks.
Our minds, rather than reality, are the biggest blocks to exciting living, and new possibilities.
Reader giveaway: We have 2 double passes (worth $190.00 each) to give away to Robyn's next 2 hour Breakfast Club in Auckland, February 1st. This month she'll join with Sue Blair of Personality Dynamics. Topic: 'Discover your personality preferences & achieve your goals'.
To be in to win, email your entry now to email@example.com with Breakfast (NZ Herald Online) in the subject line. Entries close by 5pm Friday 25th January. For those who miss out, tickets and more details at: www.gettingagrip.com/breakfastclub/.