I used to work with someone who said the most productive minute was the last minute.
This very intelligent, capable person enjoyed the adrenaline rush of waiting until just before the deadline to do things. Working independently, he always came through. Working with others— well it could get a little frustrating. This was how I operated as an undergraduate, and still do on occasion in spite of my best intentions.
You know the drill.
You have had the syllabus for weeks.
You took a peek at the book and did the homework, but the motivation to study just wasn't there until the sense of impending doom kicked in!
Those were the days!
The all-nighters fueled by cola and desperation, staring at the books blindly as if I were trying to somehow develop a photographic memory by morning…
I passed… mostly… but 47-year-old me looks back and says, "Why did I do that to myself?"
I learned to avoid procrastination as a Navy lieutenant.
I was working for a department head in the Navy's largest aviation squadron at the time. VP-30's mission was to provide advanced pilot training and our department, the training department, was over 500 men strong. My job at the time was to process the mountains of paperwork associated with this very large operation.
It was a good experience.
I decentralized administrative processing, assigning yeomen to each division so that formatting and editing were done up front— something that greatly decreased the number of angry people pounding on my desk for editing their work. WIN!
But the most enduring lesson of that tour of duty came from then Commander Tim Tibbits, my boss. When the the commanding officer gave the department heads a deadline, he would back up the deadline for us by at least two weeks.
At first we whined, myself included, but after a few of these major deadlines came and went, a trend became apparent. Right before our due dates, while the other divisions were abuzz with activity, most of our division could be found leaving work on time, even arranging the occasional tee time with the alligator who lived on the golf course!
I carried these lessons with me.
In my masters program and subsequent jobs I managed my workload WAY better.
It really sank in when I went back for my doctorate years later, as a working mother. I began taking CAPT Tibbits' method to extremes, sometimes even reading the books before my courses started! The method served me well, as— much to my surprise— I was faced with circumstances that made it difficult to count on any one chunk of time to get things done. Life became unpredictable and the last minute was not always available to me, but front-loading my work made success possible.
This "getting ahead of the power curve" has become my preferred mode of work over the years, but I have to confess that I am still not there just yet! (UGH!)
This realization hit me hard today as I was going about various tasks wondering what to write. I had put myself in the position of writing a Tuesday blog post ...on Tuesday!
MEA CULPA! Physician, heal thyself!!!
I hate procrastination most of all when I do it myself!
Perhaps the ONLY thing I should be putting off is procrastination itself.
Yet it's so easy to find the time to procrastinate. Isn't it?
Be authentic. Admit it. Move on.
Learn, live, and schedule some time to get ahead!
What's YOUR #1 tool for putting off procrastination?
The text of this blog posting may be shared, reproduced, and used in accordance with the creative commons share alike-attribution license (generic, 2.5). For details of acceptable use, please visit https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.5/.