Over the last 3 months, my business has grown steadily and I’ve got more clients, inquiries and contacts. I’ve had a number of people ask for complimentary consultations to identify what’s keeping them stuck in business and I had fun doing these sessions. I also increased my online presence and networked more offline with the result of having more contacts for my database.
As my contact list grew and appointments increased, I knew that it was time to implement an effective way of handling them. Every day, I would put “Back up my phone” and “Identify and set up out a customer relationship management system (CRM)” in my to-do list. I identified and downloaded a CRM system and stopped there.
As I worked through my to-do list each day, I would put off these tasks for ‘tomorrow’. After all, I have never lost a phone, misplaced contacts, or missed appointments before, so I was covered…or so I thought…
Come Sunday last week and the first thing that happened when I got into the living room in the morning was that I dropped my phone. This wasn’t the first time it had happened, but it was definitely the last time for this phone because the screen cracked and…the phone packed up. It was powering on but nothing would happen beyond that.
That was the beginning of a mess that I am still working on as I write this post. And from this mess, I learnt 5 important reasons why I should stop procrastinating from now on.
1. You lose more than you thought
When you procrastinate and things go wrong, you often end up losing much more that you think. For example, it may seem as if all I lost was contacts, messages, and other information. In reality, some people whom I was to contact this week will lose faith in me because I never followed up with them. It also doesn’t look good for you to go back to people and ask for their contacts because your phone packed up. That just seems like an excuse (oops!). Finally, when I cost the time lost getting back the information, it’s clearly a big loss in terms of money.
2. Procrastinating creates an avalanche
Unfortunately, you don’t see the effect of procrastinating until things fall apart and you’re in a crisis. When you put off one thing, the habit will start creeping into other things. For example, it’s been 4 weeks since I last wrote a blog post and each Monday I start with the intention of creating 2 posts that week. Before I know it, the week is over and nothing is written. I’ve also noticed that there are other areas in my personal life where I had started putting things off for another day, week or month. All these have led to a negative effect of one kind or another.
Looking back, I can see that it would have taken me 3-4 hours at the most to do my backup, install an automated customer relationship management system and transfer information from my phone to it. Even if I get the contacts back, I’ve lost track of where I was in the follow-up cycle with most of the people I’ve met over the last 2 months because all that information was in my phone. I kept telling myself that I don’t have the time to put in even an hour of consistent work daily and yet, I’ve now had to create the time at the cost of something else.
4. The things you procrastinate on affect your future negatively
I’ve used Stephen Covey’s book The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People to implement the 4 quadrants of time management effectively and then I let it slide. These quadrants are:
- Quadrant 1: Urgent and important
- Quadrant 2: Important but not urgent
- Quadrant 3: Urgent and not important
- Quadrant 4: Not urgent and not important
Covey recommends that we spend more time in Quadrant 2 because these are activities that don’t have an immediate effect in the present moment, but have a huge impact on your future. He also notes that if you spend time working on important activities, you will somehow also manage to work on the less important ones. The main lesson for me is that if I don’t take charge of Quadrant 2 activities now, they will become emergencies in the future and move to Quadrant 1 – which drains your time and energy. And that is exactly what happened to me. Had I taken the time to simply work through my task list as planned (a Quadrant 2 task), I would not be in this mess today (in Quadrant 1).
5. I should face my fears when I’m out of my comfort zone
One of the reasons I was procrastinating was because the growth of my business has pushed me way out of my comfort zone and so I didn’t know what to do at this level and wasn’t ready to shift upwards. It happened suddenly and the easiest thing to do was to keep off creating systems that will enable smooth running of my business as it grows and continue working in my usual way. When I look back, I can see how I’ve used procrastination in the past to avoid moving to a new level in my life or business.
If you’re like me, then simple actions like backing up your phone, computer or tablet is something that remains at the back of your mind. Some of the information I lost had been sitting in my phone for more than a month. At least that was me until last week. Today, I’m already backing up all my devices and creating an offline CRM system that I will update daily.
At the same time, I’m going through my to-do lists for this year and identifying important tasks that I allowed to fall through the cracks and start working on them. I’ve already cleared the first hour of my day to work on these important tasks and once I have a prioritized list, I will complete them one at a time…starting with getting back to writing 1-2 articles a week.
Finally, I can clearly identify that when I increased my online and offline networking, I didn’t make a plan for the business growth that would arise from these activities. And so when the business started shifting (it didn’t happen overnight), I was still ‘asleep’ so to speak. This is a lesson for me to:
- Prepare to handle success both mentally and physically (in the business);
- Start looking at the business as I want it to be 5 years from now, and then start building in the resources that are needed to grow the business seamlessly;
- Make Quadrant 2 activities a priority even as I clear Quadrant 1 tasks.
How about you?
As the popular statement goes, procrastination is the thief of time and profit. It delays work, reduces output and leads to loss of business and income.
What excuses have you used in the past? Have you managed to stop procrastinating? Share your experience with us in the Comments section below.
(Images courtesy of Stuart Miles at www.freedigitalphotos.net)