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Time management: procrastinate on purpose

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. Tyler Macdonald
  • 375th Contracting Squadron
What if everything you thought you knew about time management was wrong?
We have more time management techniques and tools than ever before, yet we find ourselves busier than ever. Many of us find the harder we work, the more we fall behind. We end up constantly putting out fires instead of maximizing our time.
Time management tools taught in the past preached working faster and juggling more items to keep up with the responsibilities on our plates, which inevitably lead to burnout.

After personally repeating this cycle countless times I thought, "There has to be a better way. I can't continue to be a juggling hamster running on a never ending wheel."
This is common among the top performers and chronic overachievers alike, and it is a new form of procrastination called priority dilution.

Priority dilution delays the day's most important activities by shifting our attention to unimportant tasks. Ultimately, it has the same result as procrastination, which is the most expensive invisible cost in our lives today.

During my research into finding ways to multiply my time, I listened to an audiobook called, "Procrastinate on Purpose," by Rory Vaden.

Vaden identified a specific type of person called a multiplier. Multipliers used what is called a significance calculation when deciding what tasks to complete. The significance calculation asks the question: "What can I spend time on today that will buy me more time tomorrow?" This question can inspire hope and can effectively multiply our time. I bet you can already think of some things you should either start or stop doing that would give you more margin in your life tomorrow.

Multipliers go through a different mental process than the rest of us when prioritizing their time. Imagine a funnel where the top is wide and the bottom is narrow. Multipliers filter their tasks into the top of the funnel and make choices on how to best manage the tasks as they pass through. The top of the funnel has the largest potential to create time margin by asking, "Does this task really need to be done?"

In using this process, we give permission to eliminate the tasks that produce no result. You would be surprised at the large number of items on your to-do list that are actually just priority dilution. Success is not related to the volume of tasks we complete, rather the significance of the results. If you cannot eliminate the task, it goes down to the second part of the funnel where we ask: "Can I automate this?" Automatic bill pay for example may require us to invest two hours of our time to set up our accounts but will save 30 minutes every month. The multiplier mindset understands the return on time invested saves us six hours a year. Automation is to your time what compounding interest is to your money.

If we cannot automate, then it moves down to the third choice: "Can I delegate this?" Many of us don't want to delegate and tell ourselves: "It would just be faster if I did it myself." And you'd be right-- once. When multipliers and leaders delegate, they empower those around them to step-up and become leaders themselves. Multipliers do not need to be the one Navy Seal in the workplace; instead, they create an army.
If the task cannot be eliminated, automated, or delegated, it is all yours. The only question is, "Can it wait until later?" If the answer is yes, don't do it; you need to procrastinate on purpose. Procrastinating on purpose is being patient, not avoiding something you don't want to do. Cycling this task back to the top funnel a couple times will either allow you to eliminate, delegate, or finally, concentrate on it. Reduce the urge to multitask. Concentrate on the next most significant task until it is completed; everything else is just a distraction.

In an organization, there are those who create time and those who cost time. Being deliberate and changing your mindset can multiply your time in your personal and professional lives. Hopefully, you'll take the multiplier principles learned here and use them to enhance your organizations.