I learned a good lesson this week. Or rather, I relearned a good lesson, because this is stuff that I teach people. Sometimes, I just forget my own strategies.
A client gently reminded me of a piece of work that I had promised him, but I had procrastinated on. Luckily, he had scheduled a “Due from others” task to remind himself that I was due to get back to him (See this video for an explanation of “Due from others”).
I realised that I had procrastinated because I had made the task much more complex in my head than it actually was. When I had looked at the original request, I had not taken the time to roughly scope out how much work was involved. I had just assumed it would be complex and take at least an hour, so I put it off until later… and put it off…and put it off… until he chased me up.
When I finally did roll up my sleeves and got stuck into it, I realised that it was a ten-minute job, not a one-hour job. And yet I had procrastinated about it for several weeks!
So, lesson relearned. When you commit to a piece of work, take a few minutes to roughly sketch what is involved and how long it will take. Then schedule the work in your calendar or in your task list with greater clarity about how much time you will need. Taking the time upfront to plan the task will save time at the execution stage. It will also reduce procrastination and keep your clients and stakeholders happy.