Thursday, November 23, 2017

Procrastination: What Motivates Getting Things Done?

Procrastination: What Motivates Getting Things Done? by Damond Nollan



Hi, my name is Damond Nollan and I am a procrastinator.

Yes, you read that correctly. I often delay tasks until the very last possible minute. From as far back as I can remember, there has always been a strong urge to put off homework, chores, taxes, projects, home repairs, and even getting dressed in preparation for the day. It's systemic and it affects just about every area of my life.

Despite the negative connotation associated with procrastination, I still get things done. Ok, before you try and poke a hole in that statement, I will be extremely transparent and reveal that I have yet to finish my doctoral degree. Oh, and if you're my girlfriend, I am very aware of the endless list of tasks that I still haven't completed, like adding all my many books to the four bookshelves you bought last Christmas.

In my mind, I know there are a trillion things that I have to do, but instead of worrying about everything and carrying the weight of the world on my shoulders, I focus primarily on what's most important now. What has to be done today? Better yet, what has to be done right now? If I have time to finish it, then it can wait.

Procrastinators vs. Anti-Procrastinators

When I compare my style of task completion to that of a co-worker, I feel like such a slacker. This particular individual begins work the minute she learns about a task. She almost always finishes the assignments first, which tends to ultimately influence how the rest of us complete our contributions.

In my personal life, my girlfriend, much like my mother before her, always wants me to do stuff right now. "When are you going to finish cleaning your room?" She would inquire. "Soon!" I would reply. At this point, you can replace "cleaning your room" with just about anything and it will resemble what an anti-procrastinator would ask. Here are a few more examples:
  • When are you going to file those important papers?
  • When are you going to call the company and ask for more details?
  • When are you going to hang those new drapes I bought?
  • When are you going to clean the garage, paint the girl's bedroom, organize that closet, and get rid of all that junk?
  • When are you going to call the repairman and get the washing machine, refrigerator, sink, staircase, and front door fixed?
  • When are you going to buy a new bed, dining room table, suit, coat, and shoes? 
While each of those things are important, it doesn't require an immediate action. Most of the time, there is still plenty of time to get the issue or task resolved. For open-ended tasks, as in things without a deadline, they will get done when it absolutely has to be finished. Why waste my time and energy doing something that can wait, may never see the light of day, or serves as busy work to satisfy someone else's need for constant change and attention? No thank you! (add boyish smile here)

Bringing in the Big Guns

It was during a recent conversation that I realized how much contention our differences in completing tasks can cause. From my girlfriend's perspective, failure to finish requests within her expected timeframe meant that I didn't care. If it's important to her, it should be important to me. She argues.

This discussion prompted further contemplation around strategies for personal motivation. I always knew that if I wanted my house clean, I would just invite someone over, but how can I apply that same strategy for other tasks? This led me back to a Success Insider podcast episode, hosted by Josh Ellis and Shelby Skrhak, that focused on procrastination. That is where I was first introduced to Dr. Mary Lamia, the author of, "What Motivates Getting Things Done: Procrastination, Emotions, and Success."

What I enjoyed most about the interview was that Dr. Lamia didn't cast a dark shadow over people whose default style is procrastination. In fact, she pointed out that procrastinators are just as likely to be successful as those individuals who get things done early. She even went on to say that procrastinators may even have a higher quality first draft because we ruminate on the job long before we ever take action to complete it.

"Wow! I need to read that book." Says my inner scientist. Understanding motivation would only help me achieve more. Not only that, but I am getting the impression that I will no longer have to walk around in shame because of my default style, but instead can walk around with my head held high as I embrace the natural gifts God bestowed upon me.

If you are interested in reading the book with me or want to engage in a conversation about procrastination and motivational styles, I would love to engage with you. I do have a growing book club on Facebook that you are welcome to join or feel free to comment below.

Either way, I am excited to jump in and devour these 10 chapters:
  1. What Motivates Getting Things Done: An Overview
  2. Deadlines, Deliberation, and Distractions
  3. What Motivates Early Action or Delay?
  4. Anxiety as an Engine for Task Completion
  5. Why You Should Fear Failure
  6. Pursuing Excellence
  7. Relationships and Divergent Motivational Styles
  8. Optimizing Your Motivational Style
  9. Troubleshooting Guide
  10. Looking Back and Moving Forward
As I gain insight and contemplate how I can apply the lessons to my life, rest assured that I will be back to share it all with you. Just make sure you subscribe to my newsletter so you don't miss it when it comes.

Until next time...
   

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Damond L. Nollan, M.B.A.

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