How many times have you started a sentence with, “I will get to that tomorrow”? I must confess, prior to some necessary and meaningful changes years ago, that phrase was a natural part of my everyday language.
I need to prospect…I will get to that tomorrow.
I need to role practice my voicemails…I will get to that tomorrow.
I need to research that customer…I will get to that tomorrow.
I think you get the idea. In fact, this poisonous mindset is so common that in 2008 Nike presented its campaign specifically focused on the concept of procrastination. In addition to their “Just Do It.” campaign, a New York billboard displayed:
Yesterday You Said Tomorrow. – Nike
Simple, relatable, and motivational. Four simple words that remind us of what it really takes to succeed. You have to put in the work now. Today, not tomorrow.
So why do we put things off, and what can we do to avoid falling into this trap? The real question becomes:
Do you trust the future you?
Why do we allow procrastination, or let’s use a much more pleasant word, avoidance? There could be many reasons, but 2 of the most common are:
The task itself is not something we really want or like to do. We think about the time it will take, the difficulty of executing the task or perhaps we simply believe what we are working on instead is more pleasant.
Fear of not doing a good job, not knowing exactly how to begin or the all the steps required, or perhaps even failing at the task.
Regardless of the reason, we are “in the habit” of trusting our well-meaning intentions of doing it in the future but can easily disappoint when it gets pushed to another “tomorrow.” (the future you). At Butler Street, we say
Bad habits are like comfortable beds. Easy to get into and very hard to get out of.
We can all agree that relying on good intentions is a pretty useless exercise as it has proven time and again to be the enemy related to overcoming an “avoidance” mentality. The great thing is there IS something we can do about it if we find ourselves in this cycle.
The first step is forgiving yourself for procrastinating and committing to the best practices below.
Take a small action - if we live by the philosophy that progressive improvement is better than postponed perfection, then commit to achieving a small task as part of achieving the overall goal.
If you are a salesperson that struggles to “find time” to prospect, you realize that you have to make prospecting a habit. It is easier if you do a little bit every single day so pick a time frame AND a number of calls to which you can commit – perhaps ONLY 15 minutes and 10 prospect calls. Every day. Same time. Block it on your calendar. Think about the exponential power of doing this every day. 50 prospect calls per week, 200 per month and 2400 per year. Also, get this out of the way early in the day. You’ll feel good about getting something you may deem unpleasant out of the way.
Build in accountability and enlist a work peer to be your task buddy – we know peer pressure works. More importantly, choose a co-worker that you trust and believe is skilled at the task you are trying to improve upon. Using the prospecting example above, think about the value of scripting and role practicing your outbound phone calls with someone that can provide best practice insights, challenge your words, and make you feel confident about your prospecting efforts.
Minimize distractions – when performing a task that we usually avoid, it is critical that we remove ALL items that may distract us from accomplishing our goal. Turn off your email, social media, and don’t answer incoming calls. Focusing on the prospecting example again, treat the activity like you are on a sales visit with a customer. You would not be able to jump on a quick email, take a quick call, or check your social media. Your full attention should be on the outcome of your sales call.
If you or your teams are putting trust in words instead of actions, remember that a structured, repeatable process will support new accomplishments and outcomes. At Butler Street, we help companies and their people grow. Contact us to learn more, you’ll be very proud of the future you!