Procrastination

By Christine Hollinden

This blog is an excerpt from Chris Brogan's enewsletter called "Our Sunday Chat." Chris Brogan (www.chrisbrogan.com) - social media marketer and author extraordinaire (Trust Agents) - agreed to let me share it with you (he's just that kinda guy).

Our Sunday Chat: Do the Work
by: Chris Brogan


I promise that we won't always talk about work subjects on a Sunday, but this was heavily on my mind because of my own personal experiences. I know that some people have asked me about this in the past, so if you're interested as well, I thought I'd talk about what it takes to do the work.

I had intended to write this letter a bunch of days ago and have it ready to share with you today (Sunday), but it took me awhile to get it all done. Why? Because I had all kinds of travel and other things that got in the way of what else needed doing. Life, as it turns out, has no small number of situations that are more than anxious to get in the way of what needs doing. Have you noticed that?

But we add to this. When I got home from several days of travel, I went right to the movie theater to watch The Avengers (I am a lifelong comic nerd, but even if you're not, this movie is totally worth your time). That time could have been spent writing this letter.

On Saturday, I visited a couple of friends, because they were having a book sale (she runs a secret bookstore in her house), and then I drove one town away for a delicious lunch and drinks overlooking the river, and it was a gorgeous and perfect experience (except that I was missing Jacq's company). It was everything great with a Saturday. Except that I had work to do.

All Work and No Play And All That

Here's the thing. You might travel often for work (as I do). You might have kids that keep you busy (as I do some days). You might have the opportunity to go to a great party and meet some great people (I don't do this often, but I suppose the opportunity is there). I didn't go pick up the laundry that needed picking up. I didn't really do much to clean the place. And, I most certainly didn't do nearly as much work as needs doing.

You could say, on one side, that you need lots of rest and downtime and all that. I wouldn't disagree that we all could use some rest here and there. I will also say this: we need less than we allow ourselves, and we often take it at the wrong point.

Do The Work

If you're worried that you can't pay the bills, make work that will pay the bills a priority. If you take on deadline work, meet your deadlines before you take on new tasks. If you're looking to up your game and become one of the "big names" in your field, you get there by doing the work that needs doing.

Attack Your Procrastination


One sign that I don't want to do something is that I suddenly find many other things that need doing. I also launch the "justification engine." When that motor starts, I flood my brain with ditties like this: "I'll jump right in on this writing, right after I watch this movie I've always wanted to see." The moment you put something between the work that needs doing and what you're really doing, that's procrastinating and you have to stop it quickly.

  • Start. One way to not procrastinate is to start. Just get in there and take whatever next step you can take. Sometimes, a project just needs you to start, or pick up where you left off.
  • Bargain with yourself. If I do at least 20 minutes of this, I'll then have earned that quick peek into what's going on inside of Twitter. Just don't OVER-bargain. That's back to justifying and procrastinating.
  • Eliminate roadblocks. Having trouble focusing on a task? Turn off the Internet entirely. Do something drastic, if you have to, but shut it down if that's the culprit. Ditto, television, and whatever else. If the distraction is the kids, then go to bed when they go to bed, and set your alarm for some horrible time where they're not awake.
  • Make your success. If you can't accomplish what needs doing in the environment you have around you, what needs to change? I sometimes find myself typing in my bed in the dark, and then, oddly, I'm sleepy. I need lights and coffee and music playing. I need to get out and change the scenery, etc. Put success in the way, as Rob would tell you.

Visualize the Path, Not the Reward

Jacq taught me something really interesting. There are many studies that point to the fact that if you tell a bunch of people you're going to do X, then you end up releasing a bunch of chemical triggers inside your brain that say to you that you've already done X. "I'm going to lose 30 pounds over the next 3 months," you might say. Pow. Your body says, "you already have!" And then you get this rush of chemicals that feel as if you've accomplished your goal.

Instead, think about the path. Become "the kind of person who." If you're running a marathon, then you're the kind of person who gets up at 4:30am to get in the miles. Don't visualize the marathon day as much, in this instance. Visualize getting out there onto the street (or the trail, if you're like me), and putting those feet down.

Never Complain

We're all busy. Far too busy to do all that needs doing. And yet, Gandhi said that we all have the same 24 hours in each day, and so it's what we're doing that defines what makes us busy. Maybe you've volunteered for too many projects in your community. Maybe you watch seven different TV shows, but you're down from 12. Maybe you have said yes far too much (That's my big problem). Stop complaining. I'm trying to do that, too. We're all too busy. We all have more work than we can handle.

And those few of us who don't? Well, they hate the reminder.

As For Leisure

Yes, I'm having a second cup of coffee today with you. I'm not running out there and tackling every single item on my to-do list. I'm not going to panic if a few things are just a bit delayed (provided it's only a few things). We need to stay calm and just do what needs doing. This shouldn't be about pressure. Just remember that we are creatures that crave leisure and pleasure, and that's okay. It's all about keeping that flow going.

Nature isn't lazy. Have you ever watched the ocean for a while? It's violent and turbulent. Have you ever watched a wild field? There are wars being fought while you smell those daisies. Even your lawn, as perfectly manicured as it might be, is a vibrant and energetic thing. To bring you such beauty is to afford you the opportunity to admire the view, but then to set about accomplishing all those efforts that deliver the results you need.

Let's get there together, shall we? Can you save this for those days when you're feeling like you know you should be doing more, but aren't? This might not be the best email to share with someone else, by the way. Why? Because no one ever wants to be poked in the ribs and told that he or she isn't really doing the work. It's one of those silent realizations we have to have with ourselves most days. Don't you think?