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Don’t just ‘Retreat,’ PLAN

Don’t just ‘Retreat,’ PLAN

For the past three days we at Say Leadership Coaching have been on a retreat. ‘Retreat’ is what most businesses traditionally call it, but I don’t care for the word with its’ backpedaling imagery and cowering connotations. I much prefer our Hawaiian one, Ho‘olālā, meaning to ‘make plans.’ To make plans is to prepare for moving forward in the best possible way.

December is our time for Ho‘olālā for the pure seasonal rightness of it. With the New Year arriving in mere weeks, those inevitable resolutions take shape so much more naturally when the ‘business retreat process’ has happened first. When the Ho‘olālā process is good, those New Year’s resolutions become the right resolutions, and the plans to execute them are smart plans.

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I am one of the most deliberative planners you’ll meet, for I believe in the process of planning for the success you strive for, and then plotting the step by step “action traction” which will propel you ever forward. Plans without specific, bold actions are worthless. When Ho‘olālā is held as a planning retreat, everyone walks away from it ready to take on the world; they know exactly what they will do next. They’ve created new energy and achieved synergy in the process, and they strongly believe that when their individual action steps combine they will be a force to be reckoned with. They are a positive force capable of creating a better future both for the company and for themselves. They’re feeling brave and confident.

So what is this Ho‘olālā , this Business Planning process?

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Much of it involves managerial concepts you’ve read from me before, in separate articles here for Lifehack.org. Business Planning should be when you actually use things like Vision, Values, and Mission – they aren’t things which someone made pretty sentences for in framed art on the walls. In Ho‘olālā they line up and are used like this:

  1. First we recommit to a very specific Vision, so everyone is clear on the ultimate objective we are planning FOR. In Ho‘olālā we are only aiming for the immediacy of the coming year.
  2. Second we revisit our Values. We talk about those values which center our company, serving as our very reliable constancy no matter how much change swirls around us.
  3. Third we tackle Mission, when and ONLY when our Vision and our Values are in crystal clear, integrity balanced alignment. Mission is a collection of key initiatives; they are the sub-projects we’ll dedicate our focused effort toward in the year to come, specifically chosen because they will cause our Vision to happen.
  4. Fourth, the Action Traction. Each one of those sub-projects we collectively call Mission are broken down into their first individual action steps, and those actions are assigned and calendared.
  5. Fifth, each person writes their Ho‘ohana, which is a personal and professional individual mission statement connecting their goals to the Vision of the company. Companies aren’t great unless the people within them become great.

You can find more detail on each of these steps on www.managingwithaloha.com today, in Ho‘olālā: The Business Planning Process.

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We work hard during Ho‘olālā; they are not the retreats held during other times of the year where it is mostly team-building, camaraderie and fun. Those things are important too, but they have another time and place. The right people are chosen for Ho‘olālā; they are already a well-functioning team, one which is deeply committed to each other and unconditionally supportive of each other. During Ho‘olālā they celebrate their brilliance, and their passion for the focused work it takes to create lasting legacies.

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Rosa Say

is the author of Managing with Aloha, Bringing Hawaii’s Universal Values to the Art of Business and the Talking Story blog. She is the founder of Say Leadership Coaching, a company dedicated to bringing nobility to the working arts of management and leadership.

More by this author

Rosa Say

Rosa is an author and blogger who dedicates to helping people thrive in the work and live with purpose.

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Last Updated on October 15, 2019

Is Procrastination Bad? The Truth About Procrastination Revealed

Is Procrastination Bad? The Truth About Procrastination Revealed

Procrastination is very literally the opposite of productivity. To produce something is to pull it forward, while to procrastinate is to push it forward — to tomorrow, to next week, or ultimately to never.

Procrastination fills us with shame — we curse ourselves for our laziness, our inability to focus on the task at hand, our tendency to be easily led into easier and more immediate gratifications. And with good reason: for the most part, time spent procrastinating is time spent not doing things that are, in some way or other, important to us.

There is a positive side to procrastination, but it’s important not to confuse procrastination at its best with everyday garden-variety procrastination.

Sometimes — sometimes! — procrastination gives us the time we need to sort through a thorny issue or to generate ideas. In those rare instances, we should embrace procrastination — even as we push it away the rest of the time.

Why we procrastinate after all

We procrastinate for a number of reasons, some better than others. One reason we procrastinate is that, while we know what we want to do, we need time to let the ideas “ferment” before we are ready to sit down and put them into action.

Some might call this “creative faffing”; I call it, following copywriter Ray Del Savio’s lead, “concepting”.[1]

Whatever you choose to call it, it’s the time spent dreaming up what you want to say or do, weighing ideas in your mind, following false leads and tearing off on mental wild goose chases, and generally thinking things through.

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To the outside observer, concepting looks like… well, like nothing much at all. Maybe you’re leaning back in your chair, feet up, staring at the wall or ceiling, or laying in bed apparently dozing, or looking out over the skyline or feeding pigeons in the park or fiddling with the Japanese vinyl toys that stand watch over your desk.

If ideas are the lifeblood of your work, you have to make time for concepting, and you have to overcome the sensation— often overpowering in our work-obsessed culture — that faffing, however creative, is not work.

So, is procrastination bad?

Yes it is.

Don’t fool yourself into thinking that you’re “concepting” when in fact you’re just not sure what you’re supposed to be doing.

Spending an hour staring at the wall while thinking up the perfect tagline for a marketing campaign is creative faffing; staring at the wall for an hour because you don’t know how to come up with a tagline, or don’t know the product you’re marketing well enough to come up with one, is just wasting time.

Lack of definition is perhaps the biggest friend of your procrastination demons. When we’re not sure what to do — whether because we haven’t planned thoroughly enough, we haven’t specified the scope of what we hope to accomplish in the immediate present, or we lack important information, skills, or resources to get the job done.

It’s easy to get distracted or to trick ourselves into spinning our wheels doing nothing. It takes our mind off the uncomfortable sensation of failing to make progress on something important.

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The answer to this is in planning and scheduling. Rather than giving yourself an unspecified length of time to perform an unspecified task (“Let’s see, I guess I’ll work on that spreadsheet for a while”) give yourself a limited amount of time to work on a clearly defined task (“Now I’ll enter the figures from last months sales report into the spreadsheet for an hour”).

Giving yourself a deadline, even an artificial one, helps build a sense of urgency and also offers the promise of time to “screw around” later, once more important things are done.

For larger projects, planning plays a huge role in whether or not you’ll spend too much time procrastinating to reach the end reasonably quickly.

A good plan not only lists the steps you have to take to reach the end, but takes into account the resources, knowledge and inputs from other people you’re going to need to perform those steps.

Instead of futzing around doing nothing because you don’t have last month’s sales report, getting the report should be a step in the project.

Otherwise, you’ll spend time cooling your heels, justifying your lack of action as necessary: you aren’t wasting time because you want to, but because you have to.

How bad procrastination can be

Our mind can often trick us into procrastinating, often to the point that we don’t realize we’re procrastinating at all.

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After all, we have lots and lots of things to do; if we’re working on something, aren’t we being productive – even if the one big thing we need to work on doesn’t get done?

One way this plays out is that we scan our to-do list, skipping over the big challenging projects in favor of the short, easy projects. At the end of the day, we feel very productive: we’ve crossed twelve things off our list!

That big project we didn’t work on gets put onto the next day’s list, and when the same thing happens, it gets moved forward again. And again.

Big tasks often present us with the problem above – we aren’t sure what to do exactly, so we look for other ways to occupy ourselves.

In many cases too, big tasks aren’t really tasks at all; they’re aggregates of many smaller tasks. If something’s sitting on your list for a long time, each day getting skipped over in favor of more immediately doable tasks, it’s probably not very well thought out.

You’re actively resisting it because you don’t really know what it is. Try to break it down into a set of small tasks, something more like the tasks you are doing in place of the one big task you aren’t doing.

More consequences of procrastination can be found in this article:

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8 Dreadful Effects of Procrastination That Can Destroy Your Life

Procrastination, a technical failure

Procrastination is, more often than not, a sign of a technical failure, not a moral failure.

It’s not because we’re bad people that we procrastinate. Most times, procrastination serves as a symptom of something more fundamentally wrong with the tasks we’ve set ourselves.

It’s important to keep an eye on our procrastinating tendencies, to ask ourselves whenever we notice ourselves pushing things forward what it is about the task we’ve set ourselves that simply isn’t working for us.

Featured photo credit: chuttersnap via unsplash.com

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