By author and entrepreneur, Vince Stanzione
When you see an early warning sign, act quickly. Don’t put off taking action. The simplest tool for getting things done is a to-do list. Write down your daily or weekly tasks, and don’t stop until they?re done.
Putting things off is one of the main reasons why some people don’t get anywhere. Be someone who takes action. You can waste your time thinking of a hundred reasons why not to do something, but a far better use of energy is to work out how you can do it.
A winner will find ways to get things done. A loser will find ways to put things off. I have come across people who put more effort into working out why they can’t do something than it would have taken to get the thing done. What a waste of energy!
Here are some of the common excuses people give for not getting something done:
Lack of Time
This is probably the most common excuse given for not taking action. And it’s not true. You can find time for anything, if you have the will. It amazes me how people find the time to watch their favorite TV program, yet somehow have no time to fix the leaking faucet or mow the lawn. People also spend hours on social sites like Facebook and Twitter. Are these really the most productive use of your time?
Some people have good intentions, but try to do lots at once and end up doing nothing. They write long daily to-do lists that can never be completed in one day, and end up feeling overwhelmed. The key is to break large tasks into smaller chunks. It’s like eating a steak. Try to stuff the whole thing in your mouth, and you?ll struggle, but cut it up, and it’s delicious.
Make realistic to-do lists, and deal with one task at a time. Break big tasks into sections, and spread tasks over a number of days or weeks if necessary. Deal only with one task at a time, and don’t look at your to-do list until that task is finished.
Not Wanting to Do It
There are times in life when you?ll have to do something you don’t want to do. If something has to be done, putting it off will not make the task go away. The quicker you get it done, the less time you?ll have to think about it. Do the worst jobs first, and leave the best jobs until last. That way, you have something to look forward to.
As you become more successful, you?ll be able to appoint others to do the tasks you don’t particularly like. I don’t like bookkeeping. It’s repetitive, and I feel I can use my time and talents better elsewhere, so these days I pay a bookkeeper and use the time I gain to make more money at the things I?m good at.
It’s Not Due Yet
It’s amazing how quickly due dates come around. Why not do it now? You?ll have it over and done with, and when the due date comes, you will be ready. In fact, why not score a few extra points and hand in the work early? Being one step ahead is never a bad thing, especially as unexpected tasks and time constraints crop up often in business.
I Just Can’t Concentrate
Constant distractions make tasks harder to finish. Your job is to either work around or eliminate these distractions. If your office is noisy, come in early or stay late when it is quieter. E-mail, Facebook, and Skype can all be terrible distractions, and I advise logging out of these services when you?re working, so they won’t distract you.
Use whatever it takes to get the job done. When I worked in stockbroking, I was on a dealing floor with over 150 other dealers, screaming and yelling on the telephone. Often, I would take the phone and sit underneath my desk, so that I had some sound proofing. This helped me hear myself and my client, and improved my concentration.
If I Put It Off, the Task Might Go Away
There may be a one in a thousand chance that this could happen. Your boss might suddenly quit, meaning you don’t have to complete the research project you’ve been asked to do. Someone else might notice your task needs doing, and pick up the slack. But you can’t live your life this way. It’s gambling, and a gambler is never in control of his or her life. Take charge and get it done.
I Work Best Under Pressure
This is an interesting reason, and although it’s true for some people, I don’t believe working like this all the time is good for the body or mind. If you prefer to work under pressure, then set yourself a strict time to have something done by?but make this time ahead of schedule. Fool yourself into thinking you have less time, and get the task done early. Should any unforeseen circumstances arise, you?ll have time to spare.
I Need a Cigarette or a Stiff Drink First
This excuse normally crops up before an unpleasant task, such as firing people. If you must have a cigarette or stiff drink (and neither habit contributes to a successful life), deliver the news or do the task first, and then reward yourself afterwards.
It’s Too Late Today
This is a classic, used by lazy salespeople?especially on a Friday afternoon. I’ve done some excellent deals out of normal business hours. If you are selling a product and all the other salespeople stop at 5 P.M., you?ll have no competition after that time. You?ll also find that receptionists and secretaries go home at 5 P.M., meaning it’s more likely you?ll speak to the boss directly.
It’s Too Early
Starting early means getting lots done before anyone else. In terms of making sales calls, once again it means you?ll have little competition, and directors often come in early, before their secretaries arrive. I’ve clinched many deals early in the morning, whereas, if I?d called later, the customer would have been elsewhere. As they say, the early bird catches the worm.
It Might Not Work
You will only find out if you try?and remember, starting with a negative outlook reduces your chances of success. Ask yourself, What have I really got to lose if it doesn’t work? Probably just a little pride, and with positive thinking, you can get that back in no time.
I Keep Forgetting
I?m sure! If I had been meaning to write your paycheck, but I kept forgetting, you would no doubt remind me. If you genuinely keep forgetting something, write notes or ask people to remind you. The chances are, you?re forgetting because deep down you don’t want to do the task. You don’t tend to forget things you want
I Don’t Know How to Do it
This is not a legitimate reason to put something off. Seek advice, read the manual, call a technical help line, and do whatever you need to learn how to do it. It’s amazing how many tasks seem complicated or boring from the outside, but turn out to be simple and enjoyable.
If I Do it Now, They?ll Just Give Me Something Else to Do
I met someone recently who gave this excuse, and after a brief discussion it became clear he hated his job and was just coasting by. So if you use this excuse often, perhaps it’s time to change jobs. You?re not helping your employer or yourself by working somewhere you hate.
I?ll Wait Until . . .
I’ve found that, without fail, there is no time like the present. If you have genuinely decided to do something, then start today. Life isn’t a game. The sooner you start something, the sooner you?ll see results.
Vince Stanzione is a self-made multi-millionaire entrepreneur, investor and author of The Millionaire Dropout, Fire Your Boss, Do What You Love & Reclaim Your Life (published by Wiley).
For more information, visit: www.themillionairedropout.co