The Punishment of Procrastination

At 3 am this morning, my smoke alarm decided it had waited long enough for us to replace the battery. It would have been nice if it had reminded me later today while I was having coffee and checking emails, but no.

I’d had this on my “Teach my 16 year-old son how to do stuff” list since we changed the clocks November 1, but we kept pushing it off each weekend as other things seemed more important, or more fun. Well this morning, the smoke alarm would wait no longer. I woke to that chirping sound outside my bedroom door, dragged the ladder in from the garage, found a 9-volt battery, found my glasses to see what I was doing, and replaced the battery. This left me wide-awake and ready to write a blog about procrastination.

“Problems never occur at the right time.”

The problem with problems is that they rarely show up at a convenient time. The reality is we often see the problem on the horizon long before it gets here, we just wait too long to act.

Stephen Covey addressed this concept in his Time Management Matrix where he directs us to see things in four quadrants of Urgent and Important. You probably heard of this before but are you doing this in your life today? Or are you waiting for the 3 am wake up call.

Here are some things I’ve seen leaders put off until it was too late:

  • Getting a line of equity BEFORE you really need it.
  • Letting go of that bad employee.
  • Repairing the leaky roof.
  • Firing a bad client.
  • Seeing their doctor about a reoccurring health issue.
  • Spending time with their kids while they still want to spend time with you.

DO It Now!

Mom always told me “Do not put off until tomorrow what could be done today.” As the CEO or business owner of your company, I know you will always have more to do than you will ever get to. That is why we plan ahead, delegate, and get input from others.

Plan Ahead and Set Deadlines. Taxes and anniversaries come around the same date each year. Planning for something, blocking out time on your calendar, and getting it done per your deadline will keep you from having to drop everything else and put out a fire (or replace a battery). If you struggle with this, delegate it to your team or hire outside help.

Delegate To Your Team. I could have easily asked my son to replace the battery, its not that hard to figure out and he’s a smart young man. Give your team more credit and trust, and let go of the quadrant-three stuff from above. They will feel more important because you involved them and trusted them to take on new responsibilities, then you can focus on other things. Consider the trade-off and you are more likely to let it go.

Ask the other CEO Peer Group members in your group. We meet each month for a reason. You have 12 chances each year to ask the other successful leaders in our group how they get more done, and what things might you be missing that are about to pop up on your radar. We often don’t know what we did not know, until we realize we did not know about it.

You already know all this, but consider the danger of putting off things you know you need to get done. Don’t wait until “important but not urgent” things move to being “important and urgent.” If you struggle with this, let’s talk and I’ll share with you some of the things I’ve seen other successful CEOs and business owners do to get things done.

And change your batteries this weekend.

Robert Hunt

Business Owner of Renaissance Executive Forums Dallas

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