Top 10 Ways to Assassinate Procrastination
By Tina Black
Remember last week I told you that I struggle with procrastination, and I promised to give you my top 10 ways to keep it to a minimum? Let me tell you, this is as much for me as it is for you. And it’s perfect, because now you will help hold me accountable.
#1 – Don’t Underestimate the “Power of Same”
The number one way I avoid procrastination is to get into a routine. When I get off my routine, I notice that it’s much harder to “fake it” that day and I have to adjust my thoughts much more. I get more negative, more impatient, and more restless. Projects get put off and deadlines get pushed back. I begin to get off track and procrastination sets in.
So, what’s my routine? I’m part of the 5 AM club … I wake up between 5 and 6 AM. Then I plan my day and focus on personal growth (Bible study, professional and business books, TED Talks, Joyce Meyer, John Maxwell training, etc.). Then I work out, pack my food for the day, and I’m off to the races!
Even though I travel a lot, I do the same thing in hotels. It’s easy to do because I’ve made it that way. (After all, I know I have to keep procrastination at bay.)
Now, mind you, I make my routine fun. My partner, Winn Claybaugh, said in his book Be Nice (Or Else!), “If I’m not having fun with something, I won’t do it for very long.” I took that to heart. To start my day, I go to a quiet spot, light a candle, and make sure I always have a fun journal and lots and lots of markers to write with. When I stay at a hotel or other place, I scope out my “quiet spot” and make it happen. I make it fun—a time alone that I look forward to.
How about you? Have you established a daily routine? Don’t underestimate the “power of same,” and we can assassinate procrastination together!
Let’s do this!
#2 – Manage Yourself
Welcome to week two in our series on assassinating procrastination. Last week I shared my #1 way: the Power of Same, meaning to establish a daily, habitual routine. Did you figure out your routine? Did you make it fun? How’d it go? I’d love to hear what you did!
My routine is definitely established but sometimes I get lazy about scheduling my day and I skip my morning routine. When that happens, I honestly believe it’s because I don’t want to face some area because of lack of self-worth, which I’ll discuss next week in #3.
But this week’s focus is on managing your time and prioritizing what’s important. What are the things that only you should do? What are the important things you need to do, the phone calls you need to make, the crucial conversations you need to have? Those things need to be on your schedule. To me, it’s all about scheduling the most important tasks each day or, as my dad always says, “What’s Important Now (WIN).” I agree with him 100%.
This is the number one reason I procrastinate: because there are some important things I just don’t want to do. How about you … are there some things you would rather not do? I’m going to challenge myself and you to schedule those things first thing in the day. Do the least-fun tasks first. Get them out of the way. Then you can do the things you love to do later in the day. As Nike says, “Just DO it!”
Another thing I’m challenging you to do is delegate, delegate, delegate. I’ve gotten good at delegating mundane tasks. I look at my day and ask, “What can I delegate? Who can I delegate this to?” So that’s my second challenge to you: Find someone to delegate to.
Listen, I get it. You might be saying, “Tina, I work alone. I have my own business. I don’t have any assistance and I can’t afford an assistant.” Well then, I’m going to just say to you: “Delegate or die!”
I heard that quote once and I knew I’d better take it to heart. I remember my business partner Winn Claybaugh telling me to get an assistant. To be quite honest, now I can’t imagine not having an assistant. I can hardly believe I ever got along without one. In fact, as I write this message, I’m getting ready to send it to my assistant so he can clean it up and send it to my editor. What … did you think I made these blogs look this good all by myself? Hahahaha! This blog would have never happened if it weren’t for my assistant, who will eventually become one of my business partners. Everyone knows I can’t function without Shaun Chiodo. I would have “died” in business a long time ago without him. He took it to heart years ago when he heard Winn tell our Paul Mitchell School leaders, “Your number one job is to make your boss look good.” Trust me, Shaun does that! I can’t imagine my life without him (and I’m sure he’s reading this and we’re both saying, “Let’s never find out!!”)
Okay, so maybe you just graduated from school and you’re thinking, “Tina, I’m not getting an assistant right now.” Okay, okay, I hear you. But at least get an accountability partner.
How does that work? Easy! Just team up with someone and agree to hold each other accountable. Your accountability partner could be a friend, coworker, or family member. Each partner decides you would like to be held accountable to your goals. For example, some like text reminders, some like email or Facebook reminders, and some love to connect weekly for coffee or a phone call.
So, to wrap things up, here’s this week’s challenge for managing yourself:
- Daily fill out your time form (get a time management form you love) and use it. Fill it out completely every day.
- Prioritize! Fill out your “What’s Important Now (WIN)” and just do it! Get it out of the way first thing in the morning.
- Delegate, delegate, delegate!
- Get an assistant, for goodness sakes (you can’t afford not to—trust me on this), or at the very least get an accountability partner.
Let’s assassinate procrastination together again this week. Let me know how it goes!
#3 – Know Your Worth
Here we are on week three of ASSASSINATE PROCRASTINATION. How’d you do on weeks one and two? Have you established a routine yet? Did you create an accountability system or hire an assistant? Every morning when you get up, do you establish What’s Important Now (WIN) and get it out of the way? If your answer is, “Well, no Tina, not yet,” or you have a bunch of excuses, then I have a feeling you are struggling with #3: knowing your own self-worth. You’re probably even thinking right now, “But Tina, I have to take care of my spouse, my kids, my house, my car, my demanding boss … I don’t have time for me!”
This is where you and I go wrong. Listen, I get it. I’ve been there. I used to think that way, and I still do to this day. You know what that is? (Are you sure you want to know?) Okay, here it is: it’s not really that you want to take care of everyone else. It’s that, deep down inside, you don’t feel like you’re worth putting the time into. In fact, you feel that everyone else is more important than you, so you push yourself aside. Listen, I get it! I feel that way, too!
The truth is, you can’t truly give what YOU personally don’t have. Even though you THINK giving to others and not giving to yourself own self-worth is self-LESS, it’s really self-ISH. I know you’re thinking, “Huh?” Listen. You can only give from your own abundance. When you’re empty, you give empty. Can you imagine driving your car on empty? Yep, you guessed it. It won’t go far.
For me, knowing my worth means recognizing my God-given right to be happy. It’s recognizing that God loves me so much that he died for me. That he loves me with an everlasting joy. It takes me being in a “secret” place with him on a daily basis to realize that, so I journal. And I journal a lot. Letters to God. And God’s letters to me.
Here’s how I’ve challenged myself the last few years, and now I challenge you.
Get in a secret place every day. Find a place that only you and God know about. (For me, sometimes when I have too much company in my house, it means being alone in my car.) Grab a blank journal and start writing a letter to God. Tell him the good, the bad, the ugly … mostly how you feel about yourself. Ask him to give you a new image. Ask him to describe you. If you can’t hear him, you’ll find his messages in the Bible. (Yep, that’s his love note to you!)
You might be thinking, “But I read the Bible and it’s mumbo jumbo, Tina. I just don’t understand what I’m reading.” I know. I get it. Sometimes I don’t understand it, either. But trust me, his love note is in there … he has a secret passage within the Bible just for you. You just have to read and LISTEN.
Remember those pictures we used to stare at for 10 minutes (I forget the name of them)? We’d look into them and all of a sudden we’d say, “Oh my goodness, I see it! I see this and this and this!” And everyone around us would say, “Huh? I don’t see it.” And we’d say, “Keep looking and you’ll see it. Stare at this one point,” and all of a sudden they’d see it, too. That’s what I’m saying to you. Stare at that one point of how much God loves you and then you’ll see it. When you read the Bible, the secrets will unfold and you’ll truly know your worthiness.
This week and for the rest of your life:
- Find your secret place … and go to it DAILY.
- Journal your love notes to God.
- Know your worth!
Now you’ll be ASSASSINATING PROCRASTINATION…because, guess what? When you know how much you deserve what you want, you will be UNSTOPPABLE!
#4 – Murder Fear
We’re on to step four of how to assassinate procrastination. How’d you do with step three? Do you now know you are worthy to live your dreams? Did you find your secret place? Are you listening?
If you say, “Tina, are you kidding me? I don’t even have time to go to the bathroom, let alone find a quiet place,” or “I have so many small children in my house, I can’t wake up in the morning to spend even five minutes,” then may I share something with you? Are you sure? Okay … only read on if you’re really ready for this. I mean really ready, because I’m going to get a little personal.
If you can’t resolve step three, I believe it’s because you need to “murder fear” in your life. I truly believe that fear is the number one thing that holds us back from living our dreams. Fear is the “silent killer” that causes us to procrastinate. I heard a message recently by motivational speaker Tony Robbins, who said fear is sometimes disguised as, “I’m so stressed,” or “I’m so overwhelmed,” or “I’m so busy I don’t have time to complete that task.” Can I give you a piece of advice? Don’t ever say that! Never, ever say, “I’m stressed” or “I’m busy” – never, ever again. Instead replace it with the truth.
Are you ready to hear the truth? Are you sure? Then here goes.
Tony Robbins says there are two things every human is really afraid of:
- Fear that we’re not enough
- Fear that we won’t be loved
When he said that, I wanted to argue and say, “That’s not true, Tony! Nope, not for me!” Then all of a sudden I got into my “secret place” and fear reared its ugly head. Yep, that’s exactly what I’m afraid of. Deep down, I’m afraid I’m not good enough and I’m afraid of not being loved.
You’re probably saying, “Okay, Tina. Yep, you’re right. But now what?” Go back and repeat steps one through three, but stop at number three. Stop again and again and again until it becomes part of your routine. As a reminder, here are the first three steps:
#1 – Don’t Underestimate the “Power of Same”
#2 – Manage Yourself
#3 – Know Your Worth
Eventually the fear will subside. It may not go away but it will subside and you’ll procrastinate less. How do I know? Because I have to murder fear every day of my life. I’m always stretching myself and pushing myself to higher goals so I’m always, always out of my comfort zone.
I recently learned something helpful from Lindsay Avner, founder of the nonprofit Bright Pink cancer awareness organization. In her June 2015 MASTERS Audio Club interview with Winn Claybaugh, Lindsay reminds us that we can accomplish almost anything if we just have “20 seconds of courage.” For example, let’s say you want to speak to a mentor but you’re thinking, “I don’t want to bother him. He looks too busy.” Instead of letting that stop you, force yourself to be brave. Have 20 seconds of courage, go up to that person, and tell him he’s your mentor!
Or let’s say someone asks you to stand on stage and share a victory, and you’re thinking, “No way! Let someone else have the spotlight. I’m good.” Instead, get 20 seconds of courage and just do it. That’s it: 20 seconds of courage.
This past week I have taken more “20 seconds of courage moments” than ever before. And oh my goodness, it gets easier and easier!
Today, why do you need 20 seconds of courage to help you live your dream? What’s that one thing you’ve been putting aside? Maybe it’s writing your book, or going after your dream job, or contacting an organization you want to join, or going whitewater rafting. All you need is 20 seconds of courage to get you started toward your goal.
Take those 20 seconds and murder fear!
#5 – Number Your Days
Last week we talked about murdering fear, and that fear comes from not understanding your worth. How are you doing you doing with knowing your self-worth? Did you find your secret place? Do you realize how much you deserve what you want? I hope so because you are worth it. You matter!
Are you ready for #5? Are you sure? This is a tough one to hear, but trust me, when you really hear it you can assassinate procrastination. Tip #5 is to number your days. This idea came from Psalm 90:12 in the Amplified Bible, which says, “Teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom.”
We all think we have forever, but if we measured our lives by days instead of years, we’d use our days with more wisdom and urgency. Numbering our days breaks procrastination and wakes us up to an awareness of how we need to spend our time daily.
Let’s do some math …. If you live for another 10 years, that equals 3,650 days. If you live another 20 years, that equals 7,300 days. Our challenge is to appreciate every one of those days and make them count. So, how do we do it?
I fill out a daily schedule every morning, and I am very intentional about it. Years ago my husband told me I should keep my calendar in my phone, but I’d say, “No, I can remember everything, honey.” Haha! Until I missed an important meeting, and then another one. My mentor Winn Claybaugh uses a handwritten calendar; knowing how this man packs a lot into a day, I immediately started looking for a system that worked for me. After a couple of years, I finally came up with an incredible system that keeps me on track, intentional, wise, and focused on WIN (What’s Important Now). Here’s a picture of the daily calendar I use.
I often keep up to 3 months of filled-out calendars in my briefcase, and I use my travel time (airline flights) to focus on my schedules and keep them up to date.
How about you? Have you numbered your days? Then what are you doing about it?
Here’s my challenge to you:
- Recognize that your days are numbered.
- Be intentional about your days. Find a time management system that works for you and fill out each line item every day. Be sure to fill in your WIN.
Let’s ASSASSINATE PROCRASTINATION together!
#6 – Eliminate Time Wasters
Here’s a fun little post I found on Facebook the other day to start you on the next step in assassinating procrastination: Eliminate interruptions and time wasters!
The first key to eliminating time wasters is awareness. What are some of the ways you waste time? Make a list so you’ll start noticing them the minute they appear. Then you’re ready for the second key: eliminate those time wasters the minute you start on them.
I should have a bachelor’s degree in time wasters because, God knows, I’ve had a lifetime of them. Check out my list. What do you think … are some of these on your list, too?
Remember, assassinating procrastination begins when you prepare your day ahead of time. If you don’t plan your day before it starts, you’ll surely end up with time wasters. It all goes back to the #1 way to assassinate procrastination: don’t underestimate the “power of same.”
#7 – Take 10% Shifts
Last week we talked about the sixth step to assassinate procrastination: eliminate time wasters. If you’re like me, you’re probably saying, “Tina, can we please take 10 weeks on that message alone?” Yes, that was a jam-packed lesson in itself. There’s so much to be aware of, inspect, and hold yourself accountable to when you commit to eliminating things that waste your time. But trust me, when you do, life gets more enjoyable and you build up less and less stress.
Our next step, #7, is to take 10% shifts.
My partner Winn Claybaugh has talked about this for years, and I always hear it exactly when I need to. Just when life seems to feel overwhelming, I hear Winn’s voice saying, “Take 10 percent shifts, Tina!”
We truly procrastinate when we find our work overwhelming. For example, when I started writing my book three years ago (yes, three years ago—obviously I’ve been procrastinating!), I felt overwhelmed and believed I didn’t have enough time for such a big project. I’m sure you know what I mean. Then I started taking 10% shifts, working on it a little at a time. Once I broke it down by topics, made an outline, drafted the content, and started the chapters, I suddenly felt the momentum. While the whole book felt overwhelming, small bits and pieces felt doable. Now I’m in the revision stage and I can finally see the finish line! But I couldn’t have done it without my book coaches and editors, Kathy Wheeler and Gail Fink. My angels. Accountability partners and partnering with the right people make 10% shifts even easier.
Another example of 10% shifts happens in my home. We often have visitors, and sometimes my house gets a little messy and disorganized. Instead of freaking out, I’ve trained myself over the years to take 10% shifts. I will literally clean for 15 minutes, do something fun for 10 minutes, go back to cleaning and organizing for 15 minutes, and repeat. That’s so much easier!
Do you have a looming project to complete at home or at work? How about taking a 10% shift? Break it into bite-sized pieces and watch the momentum build. Just like doing a workout or running a 5K, it’s sometimes hard to get started but when you take it 10 minutes at a time, you will soon see the finish line.
Come on … take a 10% shift today and let’s assassinate procrastination!
#8 – Make a Decision
Ready for step #8 to assassinate procrastination? Make a decision!
I love this quote by Dani Johnson, another one of my favorite authors and speakers.
Great leaders always have solutions, and great leaders make decisions. How about you? Do you make decisions quickly at home, at work, or in other organizations to which you belong? If not, why not? Do you defer to others to make decisions? Are you afraid to make a decision in fear that your boss or leader will get upset with you?
Let me give you some advice: the team members in my business who moved up the ladder the quickest were those who made decisions. Honestly, any staff member I’ve had in the past who repeatedly asked “for permission” was very wearing on our leaders and me. I’d rather have my team make a wrong decision, apologize, and admit their mistakes than constantly dodge issues or defer to others.
How about a project you’re working on that you need to complete? Are you procrastinating because you can’t decide what to do? My challenge to you, and to myself, is just DO it! Make a decision to make a decision. Move forward, even if it doesn’t appear to be the right solution, and keep the momentum going forward.
Recently my team decided to partner with hairstylist and philanthropist Dustin Berlin in a project for the homeless in Detroit. Even though we didn’t “decide” the details at the very beginning, we moved forward anyway. I’m glad we did, because otherwise we might have missed a great opportunity to serve the homeless people of Detroit.
How about you? What project or event do you want to do? Make a decision to just do it!
As my partner Winn Claybaugh always says, “Ready, fire, aim” is always better than “Ready, aim, aim, aim, aim!”
#9 – Get Balanced
Are you ready for my 9th way to assassinate procrastination? Get balanced!
I know for a fact that when I’m not eating healthy and working out, or reading my Bible and connecting with God, I’m a mess. In fact, when I’m empty or not focusing on these three areas I procrastinate on projects BIG TIME!
Years ago, my first motivational speech was on balance. Why? Because I was unbalanced, of course! Listen, if you want to grow in an area you need to become an expert in that area by teaching it. If you’re not mastering that area, you’ll feel guilty every time you teach about it. Plus, you won’t be effective and your audience will call you out.
Within two years of giving that first speech, I figured out my non-negotiable areas: spiritual and physical. It happened through trial and error: I kept filling out my balance wheel and setting focuses and, boom!, it hit me one day. I was not satisfied. In fact, I was very depressed when I wasn’t balanced in those two areas. And when you’re depressed, you procrastinate big time!
This year my husband and I started teaching an online marriage leadership Bible study. I also became a Beachbody fitness coach. Talk about my audience holding me accountable! Now there’s no way I can’t be balanced in those areas. When I’m balanced, I feel complete. And when I’m complete, I procrastinate LESS!
I challenge you to get balanced. First it takes awareness that you are unbalanced. Then you can make those 10% shifts. Focus on areas in which you can grow, and then, boom!, you’ll find your non-negotiable areas like I did.
Here’s a sample of one of my favorite balance wheels:
Finally, check out my Beachbody website. If you’d like to join my team, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
#10 – Do It Now!
One of the best lessons I ever learned from John Maxwell came from his book, The Invaluable 15 Laws of Growth. Maxwell advises that when we are struggling to finish a project, we should just say, “Do it now!” 50 times.
Trust me on this one, it absolutely works. Try it today. What do you want to complete?
Fill in the blank: _____________. Now say “Do it now!” 50 times.
Then message me to tell me if it worked!