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Procrastinate on Purpose

What if everything you know about time management is wrong?  Author and Speaker Rory Vaden talks in depth about the concept of procrastinating on purpose.  Procrastinating on purpose is based on a shift in thinking.  It’s learning to manage your time based on what will give you the best results in the long-term.

Most of us have been taught to prioritize our time based on block scheduling and handling things that are “important” today first.  Time management is supposed to be a black and white process, however there is an emotional side to time management as well.  A lot of how we end up managing our time is based on what fuels us, makes us feel important, makes us feel guilty, or accomplished, and so on.

Rory introduces the concept of multiplying your time by categorizing what needs to be done:

  1. Importance. How much does it matter?
  2. Urgency. How soon does it matter?
  3. Significance. How long does it matter?

Most of us function day-to-day prioritizing our to-dos based on importance and/or urgency.  Prioritizing is limiting because it does not create more time, it only puts one thing in front of another.  Few of us determine our to-dos based on significance.  Significance is about multiplying your time by giving yourself emotional permission to spend time on things today that will multiply your time tomorrow.

Let me give you a simple, but real example that is relatable:  I have needed to change our office address with both the post office and individual businesses (i.e.:  electric, phone, etc.).  We still have our physical address, however I now work from a home office.  This has been an item on my to-do list for a while now but is something I’ve prioritized as of low importance.  Instead, each week I make a quick trip to the office to grab any mail.  Prioritizing based on significance is about multiplying my time by doing what gives me the best long-term results now.  Meaning, if I were to take 2-3 hours this week and knock out the address change/updates, I would save myself 1-hour of drive time every week going forward.  The address change, though not necessarily important, opens 1 hour of time every week which means after 3 weeks I will break even and then will have multiplied the time in my schedule. This process is Procrastinating on Purpose:  creating more time in the future by deliberately choosing to give up something today.  Any guesses on an item that has moved to the top of my list this week?

Imagine if you apply this to your business?  How many times do you hear yourself or someone on your team say, “it’s faster for me to do it myself”?  In terms of importance, you/they are probably right.  When you think in terms of significance, you/they are most likely wrong.  A task at 5-minutes per workday costs you 1300 minutes over the course of a year.  Statistically, it takes 30x the amount of time to train on a task.  That means if you spend 150 minutes training on a 5-minute task, after 30-days, you will essentially multiply time in your schedule by no longer having to do that item. Multiply that by 4-5 different tasks and you’ll start to wonder why you weren’t thinking this way sooner.  It’s always faster to do it yourself when considering importance AND it’s always faster to create a process and train someone else to do a task for you when considering significance.

The next level of results requires the next level of thinking.  If you learn nothing more about this concept past Important vs. Urgent vs. Significant you will be on the right track.  There’s a big difference in waiting to do something we know we should be doing vs. intentionally deciding that now is not the right time for something to be done by choosing significance.

If you’d like to learn more, visit Rory Vaden’s TEDx Talk here, or listen to his full presentation on Procrastinating on Purpose here.

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