Procrastination and a Table for Three:
Today I want to take you on a visual outing. A daydream of sorts. To give you a new perspective as I introduce the topic of procrastination. Today’s blog will be more of an overview to give you some general awareness, get you thinking, and provide some foundation for future blogs and coaching.
So, to begin, I want you to imagine you’re at a restaurant. You’re at a table with three chairs and you’re in one of the three chairs. The chairs are positioned, as you might already have envisioned so that each person has a clear view of the other two people at the table at all times.
So you’re sitting there…and to your left, in the chair, is ALSO YOU. But it’s you from some point in the past. It could be yesterday’s you, it could be last year’s you.
Then, to your right, in the remaining chair, is, AGAIN, YOU! This is you from some point in the future…maybe next week, maybe next month…maybe in ten years.
You as you currently are in this moment and on this day, you from a point in the past, and you in the future.
Now, if you’ve been coached by me or are otherwise familiar with my teachings on planning for the results you want to create, you know that I strongly believe that the you in the past, the person to your left at your table for three, is usually much more qualified to make decisions for your work schedule, your personal hobbies and interests planning. More qualified to budget time to tackle that pesky task around the house than anyone else at the table.
The person to your left, the you of the past, was not yet in the now. They aren’t yet bogged down by the thousand things that came up today. Was not yet stressed by the call with a family member, or an unpleasant experience at work.
The you of the past, if he or she was planning the way I coach to, would have sat down and organized your week in advance looking at all of the components you wanted to include, utilizing your prefrontal cortex with your desired results in mind. And made a plan to get everything done, including and especially your wants, considering all relevant and necessary details.
If you don’t already have a system for planning, we need to talk, because it’s a game-changer. Blogs 12 and 13 touch on some really important aspects of achieving results and reducing overwhelm. I also have a system-based approach that I’ve used to help many, many dentists achieve the function and flow that they want in their lives. So as you’re reading this today, know that there are additional resources and coaching available to you on these topics.
Now, back to your table of three. When you plan to do something in the future: meet up with a friend. Walk your dog, or meet with your accountant. When the current “you” plans that you in the future will do something that is GOOD, assuming you’re intending to do the thing at the time and date that you’re planning it for and you’re putting it in your calendar. It is good because you’ve made a decision (and trust me, as a person who makes 4,000 decisions every day, I know that making another one can be worth self-congratulations!).
In addition to making a decision to do something, you’ve looked at what else you’ve got going on in the future. You plan for the new thing you’re adding in a way that will best suit the rest of your schedule. That will best suit YOU on that day, in that week. Planning ahead is sooo good!! It is also good because once the thing is completed by the you in the future, any future you beyond that point has the benefit of that thing being done! So all good stuff when you plan ahead intentionally, with organization, on your calendar, follow-through, and complete action items.
What happens to a lot of you, though, even those of you who have been preplanning your weeks for a long time now, is that you get to the time and date that you had decided you were going to do something and you don’t do it! I know you didn’t forget, you consciously avoided doing the thing that you planned to do. You put it off, you delay it, you procrastinate it!! Which, really, is a disservice to yourself. Some of you get so frustrated with patient no-shows, or last-minute cancellations, yet you do the same thing to yourself?!
Imagine you three are all sitting there and on your current self’s phone up pops a reminder that you’d scheduled (the you of the past). You’re reminded to call your accountant today at noon. Now, look up from your phone at your past self, sitting to your left, who scheduled that thing for you. That person took time, your time, to enter things into your calendar to help you. To get you closer to your goals. Help you create organization in your life. That was time that could have been spent elsewhere. But it was spent making plans for you for this week for this day. Now look at that person and ask yourself if you want to disregard what was done for you. Do you want to disregard the time spent planning? Or disregard the effort put in arranging your week and procrastinate the call?
The importance of the call is really irrelevant. It could be a big deal, it could be a quick follow-up. Don’t get lost. And this goes for anything you’ve pre-planned. Don’t get lost in evaluating the importance of your scheduled items as if only the life-altering ones should be followed through with on a given day. If that were the case, you’d only ever eat, sleep, and go to the bathroom.
When you look at your calendar and see the next item to complete, consider your relationship with yourself. Because canceling on yourself last minute, or consciously avoiding/delaying/procrastinating something is much worse than someone else doing it to you. When you cancel on yourself, you don’t honor the time you already spent planning to do something, you don’t get it done, which means that the third person at the table, the future you, will be stuck with it at some point.
Your past self of a couple of minutes ago chose to read this blog. That impacted your current self who is exposed to its contents. And your future self at every point from the end of the blog on will have the information contained in this conversation.
I share that to illustrate that whatever you do or don’t do has an impact on YOU. That doesn’t make your decisions right or wrong, but it does make them important even when they don’t seem like they carry any weight.
So when you procrastinate, when you put something off that your current self could do, you are deciding that your future self will deal with it. Or deal with it not being done. But either way, you are impacting yourself. For sure. Every time.
This is important, because sometimes when I’m coaching you you’re telling me about the things you’ve put off and the way you’re describing your schedule to me, and procrastinating things is more in the vein of a kid who is avoiding the chores his parents asked him to do. Remember, when you decide to do something, and you’re choosing to do it because it is going to benefit you and get you one step closer to where you want to be in your business, in your finances, as a matter of health, to benefit your family whatever it is that you’ve decided, remember that it was your decision, to begin with. There’s no reason to rebel against a task and procrastination is, in a sense, a rebellion against a decision you made and prolongs you achieving a certain result.
Another form of procrastination that I see haunt a lot of people is an over-preparedness type of flavor. You say you’re trying to approach things responsibly, or with caution. Or that you’re making sure you’ve researched all of the options or whatever other clever way you tell me. And I believe that you believe is true but that boils down to indecision, delayed decision, or avoidance of making a decision. It boils down to procrastination. I’m calling it out because I care about you. I am passionate about helping the dental community thrive! And there is no thriving happening when you’re your own bottleneck.
For these types of situations, I recommend getting really constrained on how much time you will take to make a decision and that includes everything involved from looking at your schedule to find the best time to place it, to researching the options, to checking your decision against your budget, to talking about it with any other decision makers who need to be consulted.
Tomorrow from 4-6 PM I’ll tackle new practice management software. I’ll research the options out there, and make a decision on which one I’ll use for the next year. At 6 PM I’ll have made my final decision and be signed up.
Now, I’m not trying to minimize the importance of practice management software. Take 4 or 6 hours if you need to. But make a decision on when you’re going to put in the work to educate yourself on available decisions, decide that you’re going to make a final decision by the end of your timeframe, and then do it.
Assuming that most of the things on your plate aren’t going away on their own, and assuming that the ones you don’t like aren’t going to magically become your favorite pastimes the day after tomorrow. You now, or you in the future are going to have to do the things. OR You now or you in the future are going to have to experience the consequences of the things NOT being done.
But it is always you in the mix. It’s always you being affected, always you absorbing the impact of things being done or not being done, things being planned or not being planned, things being procrastinated or being quickly acted on. You are the main and, oftentimes, sole beneficiary of your actions and inactions.
If you’re a procrastinator, I don’t need to convince you of it. You know that this is an area of opportunity for you. And I want you to consider how often you’re double, triple, quadruple dipping on assigning yourself an action item, getting to the time where you’re supposed to do it, and then adjusting it, putting it off, reassigning it for a future date/time.
Some of you are spending an incredible amount of time talking about things that you need to do, deciding when you’ll do them, and not following through. This means that you have to go back to the drawing board, re-decide when you’ll fit it in in the future when, You, your future self, the person at the table to your right, will do the thing that you, the current you, is electing not to do. Even though you planned to. Even though the person to your left, your past self, decided that you’d do it at this time and date.
Can you imagine if the current you just followed through and did the thing you planned to do? Did the thing that needed to be done? How would that impact your future self? How would your future self feel about the current you for having done it?
I’m of the opinion that creating a relationship of gratitude for and with myself is a top priority. I’m motivated by love and appreciation and when I exercise discipline in planning and then in follow through, I appreciate myself. I love myself for that. I am motivated to do even more! It feels incredible to be productive. Being proactive is an amazing experience! It is a delight to get to a nearby point in the future and get to only focus on the things that were designed for that period of time because my past self took care of everything that needed to be done beforehand.
Productivity and realized results are not birthed by procrastination. They are the products of forethought, commitment, and action.
Be your own dream team. Honor your past self’s efforts. Be an active and productive current self, and provide the highest probability of success and growth to your future self. You’ve got to do this work (today! without delay) and you will be so grateful to yourself that you did!!