Is procrastination hurting your career?
“You just made the list!” The young energetic professional wrestler grabbed his pen and pulled out his book…”the list”. Yes, Chris Jericho was one-of-a-kind and truly one of my favorite wrestlers.
Chris Jericho, whose real name was Christopher Keith Irvine, was a Canadian wrestler, musician, and media personality, most well-known for his time competing in World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE).
Among wrestling fans, Jericho was known for his over-the-top, rockstar-like personality and his multiple WWE Championship runs. Outside of wrestling, Jericho is known as the lead vocalist for heavy metal group Fozzy, his podcast Talk is Jericho, and his work in television and writing.
Jericho first began wrestling in 1990. Alongside fellow wrestler Lance Storm, Jericho would first wrestle around local Calgary promotions, such as Canadian Rocky Mountain Wrestling. From 1991–1995, Jericho would travel outside Canada and wrestle in various foreign promotions such as Mexican promotion Consejo Mundial de Lucha Libre (CMLL) and Japanese promotion Wrestle Association. In 1995, Jericho started wrestling in Extreme Championship Wrestling (ECW). From 1996-1998, Jericho wrestled in World Championship Wrestling (WCW) as a cruiserweight. In 1999, Jericho signed with the World Wrestling Federation (WWF), making his amazing debut on RAW in August 29.
After almost seventeen years of smashing opponents in WWE, on September 19th, 2016, Jericho introduced "The List of Jericho," which was a list of people who annoyed him. The List of Jericho was incredibly popular with fans, who would often cheer loudly when Jericho screamed "You just made the list!"
In December 2019, while working for All Elite Wrestling, Jericho cut a promo renaming the List of Jericho into "The Lexicon of Le Champion" and re-purposing it into a list of all wrestlers that he would refuse to wrestle in AEW.
I liked Chris Jericho during his time with WWE and I love lists.
I have several lists, but unfortunately, the fastest-growing list is that of people I can no longer trust with projects. At first I did not want to believe they were liars. I made excuses for them saying that they were busy or had too many distractions in their life. As time went on, it became apparent to me that if I was to ever see success with these people, I would have to simply do the work myself. At this point, they made it to my “unreliable but I still like them” list.
The unreliability became worse as time progressed and after a while, what was really procrastination became a vehicle for lies.
“I will have this done within the week”, they would say.
That week never came.
The statement “I will have this done within the week” became a lie. One after another, well-intentioned statements piled up.
Finally, they made THE list. People I could not work with.
They say that character is what you are when nobody is looking. In our world of emergency preparedness and mitigation, procrastination kills people. We preach about it, print brochures about it, create TV commercials and PSA’s about it.
“Don’t wait until the storm to purchase your supplies!” we say.
We preach “Don’t put off writing a disaster plan.”
All the while, we put off our own responsibilities and projects.
If you often find you still haven’t started that project that you had intended to or if you have trouble simply sitting down and starting a piece of work, or if you often do less-urgent work as more important deadlines are approaching, you’re probably a procrastinator and you probably need a list.
Lately, I have been working with and meeting with a lot of people who legitimately have a serious issue with procrastination. A lot of people do this, but when it becomes the reason why you are not doing your job and you have ceased to perform at the level you are capable of, procrastination has become like a wasting disease.
In today’s world, we all have too much on our plates and the pace of life is faster than any of us can go, but that does not mean you cannot be efficient and get the things done that need to be done in order to experience success in the workspace.
-Make the list. That is the start. Make sure you realistically include the amount of time you have to perform these tasks. Here is my favorite example of how procrastination and poor time management finally smash together:
It is August 1 and you have a project that will really only take you 8 days to complete if you focus. You unrealistically set the goal of completion for August 10. What you failed to see was the “X’s” on the calendar.
On August 3 you have a Doctor appointment. On August 4 you have a staff meeting. You know that half of your workday is spent answering incoming phone calls. August 6 and 7 is a weekend. The fact is, you only have 6 days free before August 10 and because of the phone calls, you only have 3 days of TIME to do your 8 day project! It sure LOOKED like you gave yourself 10 days, didn’t it? Now, throw in some procrastination that causes you to not address the project until the 5th of August. You have one day left.
-Recognize and contemplate the importance of everything on the list and the consequences of not getting those tasks done.
-Delegate if possible the less-crucial things on the list.
-Start each day with your list visible so it is staring you in the face, daring you to ignore it.
-Make your list mobile.
-Do not put your list on your phone, it is too easy to ignore and swipe away.
-Put a reminder near your bathroom or bedroom. Until you feel you are mastering your new technique, remind yourself that the list exists.
-Decide the list is more important than what did not make it to the list.
-Force roll over of today’s to tomorrow even if it means getting up earlier or staying up later tonight.
-Share your list with your partner, spouse or assistant.
Think about the consequences of not doing the work sooner. Putting off work means you might end up missing a deadline, doing a halfhearted job, letting someone down or staying up all night to finish a project. It could also affect the way you’re seen professionally or in your personal life. Make sure you think about these consequences. You might find that simply reminding yourself of how miserable you’ll be cramming to finish something at the last minute can be enough to get you to start working on it earlier.
Resolve to work in small chunks. With procrastination, the hardest part is often just getting started. Tell yourself that you’re going to sit down and work on a project for just a small chunk of time – one hour, or even just 15 minutes. Much of the time, you’ll end up working longer than that because getting started is the hardest part, and it’s easier to get started if it doesn’t feel like you’re making an enormous time commitment.
Set yourself interim deadlines. Break projects into pieces and resolve to get one piece done per day (or per week or whatever makes sense for you). For instance, rather than just think, “I have to clean out the whole filing system,” decide to do one file drawer a day. While the entirety of a large project can be intimidating enough that it feels easier to put it off, it’s much harder to be intimidated by a small piece of the project.
Don’t strive for perfection. It’s a lot harder to get started on a task when you think the work needs to be perfect. So don’t even aim for great – just aim to get the work started. For example, if you have to write a report, sit down with the goal of simply getting words on paper without worrying about how good they are. You can go back and revise later, which will be a lot easier once you have something to work from. I have a close friend that is bound hand and foot by perfection (of which there is really no such thing). This prevents projects from ever getting off the dry-wipe board and alienates others that are drawn into the project and then find themselves waiting for progress.
Enlist a partner. If you have a friend or co-worker who also struggles with procrastination, agree to help each other out. It is similar to having that friend that is also trying to quit smoking- sometimes you need someone to slap the cigarette out of your mouth. Jointly commit to spending one hour each working on whatever you’ve been putting off, and then check in on each other at the end of the hour to ensure you each kept your commitment.
Commit to deadlines. Even if there is not a clear deadline, set one. Do not tell me you will “work on it” because if I know you to be a procrastinator, I will never believe it. Tell me that you will look at it and get back to me by Friday at 2PM. Now you have a self-set deadline and your integrity is at stake. This pressure will assist you in remembering. Of course, don’t do this unless you trust in your ability to follow through – otherwise you could end up as a worse procrastinator and someone who doesn’t meet commitments. There is a fine line between procrastinating and lying and trust me, your procrastination is being perceived as lying.
Create rewards for yourself. Don’t let yourself watch the next episode of that TV series you’re binge-watching until you complete half an hour of work on the project you’ve been putting off – but then reward yourself with a guilt-free viewing. I do this with music because we do not have a stereo in my house so my reward is to go and sit in my car with the windows up and the air conditioning almost as loud as the stereo so I can listen to the newest song I have been wanting to hear. It is a kid-free/wife-free break and a nice reward after 4 hours in my office chair doing stuff that didn't excite me. You can also reward yourself with a walk, a cupcake or whatever else motivates you although remember that too many cupcakes could create another problem…