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The Thief in your life

March 30, 2015

The last few months have been a bit hectic for me. I took on an assignment that has literally topsy-turvied my life in the sense that I have been finding myself extremely busy lately. Sometimes too busy to even get time to have my nails done! I’m not complaining, just surprised that it is possible for someone to be that busy. I am trying to look for a workable work-around that allows me to balance all my responsibilities so that all my stakeholders (including myself) get a piece of me without me collapsing. One of the stakeholders in my life is my dog; if you’ve been reading my articles since I started writing then you must know I love my dog. A lot. This is why this article today makes me sad because of what I allowed him to go through.

Sometime in February, I noticed that he had some ticks on him. Unfortunately the day I noticed this I was preparing to travel and didn’t have time to deal with those pests. Worse still, I could not ask anyone else at home to do it because he doesn’t allow anyone else to wash him besides me. You come anywhere near him with water, he becomes wild. Owing to the crazy schedules I’ve been keeping, I just haven’t had time to give him proper grooming.  

So this week I had the chance to spend time with him and that is when I noticed that the few ticks I had seen earlier had multiplied and made his coat their breeding camp. It was horrible to say the least. Not even the dog shampoo I use could deal with the ticks. Even though I used a whole bottle I still had to physically remove the ticks and fleas one by one, something that took me about 4 hours. Thinking about it now I know I could have avoided this outcome if only I had taken at least 30 minutes from my Sunday afternoons to properly groom the guy. It was an ordeal for him just as it was for me and I have to say my lesson has been learnt.

I don’t speak dog but I apologized to him in English and I’m sure he understood me since he licked my face. That gesture right there broke my heart because it’s like he was telling me, “I still love you even though you’ve neglected me lately”. Dogs are so loyal and love unconditionally. Like someone said, “what a beautiful world it would be if people had hearts like dogs”. If this were the case we would not be having emotionally disturbed pilots intentionally crashing planes full of innocent passengers into the Alps, or suicide bombers walking into restaurants and hospitals killing hundreds of innocent people, or kidnappings and shootings happening in schools in the west every so often. The world would be full of love and forgiveness.

Anyway, my message today is not about a dog’s loyalty. My message is about what happens when we leave things we could have done today for another day called tomorrow. I know this phrase sounds cliché since it has been used so many times but the truth is that tomorrow never comes. We only have today.  In short I’m talking about procrastination. Like the saying goes, “procrastination is a thief of time”. I would like to add that it is not only a thief of time but it is also a thief of opportunity, a thief of creativity, a thief of energy, a thief of enthusiasm, a thief of productivity and yes, a thief of your success and financial gain.

Ever found yourself having a task with a deadline, actually an important task, but you find yourself dragging your feet on this? Ever found yourself putting off “to tomorrow“, something you know you will have to deal with eventually? This could be anything from a personal issue or a professional one e.g. knowing your spouse has been cheating on you but putting off the moment when you have to confront them with the truth; or putting off that moment when you have to fire that non-performing employee; or worse still, failing to complete projects or initiatives that could actually make you and your business smarter or better. I am sure you can come up with your own long list of things you have been procrastinating about and if you are not a procrastinator then I’m sure you must be knowing someone who is.

So why do we do it? Why do we procrastinate? Gina Mostert, a renown Business Consultant, Coach and Strategist sought to answer this question and gave seven possibilities why this happens as listed here below:

  • The task at hand may no longer be interesting or challenging enough
  • We may not be sure how to approach the project or may feel somewhat overwhelmed
  • The outcome or vision of what we want to accomplish may not be clear
  • Hardly anybody likes to have discussions where egos may be bruised
  • Not everybody enjoys routine tasks that require attention to detail
  • We may not feel confident or skilled to effectively deal with the task at hand
  • We want to get it all perfect before declaring it done

….. And I add, just being plain lazy about doing something. The truth is, our inaction or avoidance may make us think that we have things under control, but as time progresses, the thoughts of the uncompleted tasks keep lingering, occupying mind-space and eventually creating negative energy which then starts bringing about self-doubt which then leads to people becoming defensive.

So how do we sort out the issue of procrastination? How do we get things done when they are supposed to be done? How do we move beyond the self-imposed mental blocks we put for ourselves? Gina Mostert once again sort to answer these questions and gave the following suggestions:

Fix your mindset – in other words, identify the benefits you will get out of doing what needs to be done and purpose to do it no matter what. For instance, if you are a sales person, this could be your line of thinking; the sooner I invoice for the services, the sooner the client pays and I get my commissions.

Focus on one thing only – sometimes we procrastinate because of feeling overwhelmed. Why not shut off your mind completely from everything else and just focus on the one thing you want to achieve? If it means switching off your cellphones or looking for a quiet corner for you to focus then by all means go ahead. Don’t bite more than you can handle because the moment you do that, you set yourself up for failure.

Don’t be stuck in perfectionism – it is good to do everything perfectly but you need to realize that sometimes being a perfectionist can deter you from moving forward. Do what you can now and if changes need to be done do them later. Think about a song writer, do you think they do it one-touch? No! Having recently watched the series Empire, I now know what goes behind the scenes when making music. They work on the imperfect until it becomes perfect.

Allow no excuses to come in between you and your goals – the truth is, if you want to do something you will find a way of doing it and if you don’t then you will find a whole load of excuses. Whether it is a difficult phone call, or an inconvenient conversation, or a new business project, whatever it is, just go and do it. Remember, if you dilly-dally on doing it you are robbing yourself a chance to reap great and timely rewards.

I know I have a procrastination problem; ask my dog he’ll tell you. The good thing is that I have now snapped out of it and I have purposed to make a complete turn-around. What about you, is there something you have been procrastinating about? Is there something you have been put off for tomorrow knowing fully well it needs to be done yesterday?

We are about to close the curtain on the 1st quarter of the year 2015. My question to you is, is there a possibility that you may have missed out on achieving your Q1 goals because of procrastination? Look back (and hard) at yourself and be honest with yourself and like me, purpose to drop that bad habit for good. Start the new 2nd quarter of the year a changed person.

So, the next time you want to put off something to tomorrow that you can do today remember this quote, “Do it now. Sometimes LATER becomes NEVER”.

Wishing you all a procrastination free week and quarter ahead.

PS: Article originally published in Tanzania's Guardian on Sunday on the 29th March, 2015, under my weekly column "Thoughts in Words"

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