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If I had a penny for every time someone came up to me and asked me to help them organize, figure out how to schedule, or learn how to optimize their time, I could probably cure world hunger and then some. . And while I never mind helping people with this task, it confuses me more and more every time that people still struggle so hard with this topic.
After answering many questions and talking to countless people about how to make the most of their time, I’ve come to this conclusion: It’s not your fault! We’ve learned to be expert procrastinators, and it’s finally catching up with us.
When you think back to your high school days, and maybe even beyond, it’s easy to see that we were almost primed to become expert procrastinators. You learned how to binge study while also playing sports, try to have an exceptional class president performance, get the perfect grades so you can go to the perfect university, and then no employer has ever asked you what your GPA is. used to be.
We were almost told to do everything possible to succeed, and if that meant putting off getting something done, so be it. While this may have worked in high school, many people have carried over their expert procrastination skills into adulthood and are slowly learning that procrastination quickly leads to burnout and diminished long-term success.
Related: Just Do It: How To Work When You Really Don’t Feel Like It
As adults, we incorporate procrastination into our businesses and our relationships, and instead of spending time completing the tasks that really matter, we push everything aside. Nothing is more important than our free time, and we are willing to lose a lot to keep it. This “it can wait” mentality has made people think that everything can wait, when in reality some things can’t. People no longer have the ability to choose three things every day and have them done, and as a result, their time feels less special and scarcer.
Imagine what your days, weeks, and months would look like if you chose three non-negotiable things every day. After a week of being consistent with yourself, you would have checked 21 items off your list, and after a year, over 1,000 tasks would have been completed.
More often than not, people choose a few things to get done every day, but then decide not to do them because they feel like they can wait until tomorrow. Yes, it’s true that the sky won’t fall if you don’t go to the grocery store today and put it off until tomorrow – but it’s also true that if you keep putting things off for days, weeks, or even months, it’s a lot less likely they will ever be completely ready.
Just because the sky won’t fall doesn’t mean you have to wait to complete the tasks that are important to you today.
In addition to getting less done, we also contribute greatly to burnout if we don’t have a list of tasks to complete and stick to it. For example, if I don’t have a list for each day, it never feels like I’ve done enough. I could come to the end of the day and complete 15 tasks, but since I never had a goal in mind, my first thought was “should it have been 16?”
By making a list of three things to do no matter what, your brain knows exactly when it has completed enough tasks for the day and when it can comfortably take a break and go back to other less important activities (e.g. . scrolling through Instagram).
If you want to gain confidence, you have to start doing the things you told yourself you would do, right when you said you would do them. At the end of the day, if you can’t trust yourself to complete the tasks you set yourself, who can?
Making a list of three important things to complete every day is the most important tip I can give you to achieve long-term sustainable growth for both you and your business. You see, while it’s true that your cycle of procrastination isn’t entirely your fault, it’s also true that it will be your fault if you don’t decide you want things to be different.
If you start each day making a list of three things to do no matter what, you’ll end each day feeling fulfilled and proud that you were able to move forward with yourself and for yourself. The trick is to break the cycle of procrastination, task by task.
Related: 8 Ways Successful People Beat Procrastination