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Put yourself on the line

Put yourself on the line
Football Field

“Why don’t you join me on the line?” Do you think I’m inviting you to get on a conference call? Is the football player in you visualizing the scrimmage line? Does ‘on the line’ mean anything in particular to you?

The line that we’re going to look at today is the line that separates risk from safety. It separates the unpredictable from the predictable. It divides security from opportunity. The line also separates variety from sameness; possibility from lack; and adventure from monotony.

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As we’ve grown most of us have created a line that we don’t cross. The side we’re on is comfortable, familiar, and secure. We have developed a great life on our side of the line. It includes a good circle of friends, colleagues we trust and enjoy, a lifestyle that fulfills, and work that sustains. An example of this is living in an area where we know our neighbors, working at one company for an extended period of time, and engaging in a regular activity such as the tennis league. It is illustrated in driving the same route to the office day after day, stopping at the same convenience store for coffee every day, and reading the same author over and over. Any risk on our side tends to be minimized and controlled. For example, a person might play as a guest on your hockey team. As a guest he’s been invited and approved by someone you trust. Little risk that he’s going to be a mismatch for the personality of the team or an outright jerk.

The other side of the line can also be comfortable and even better than where we are now. If we don’t cross the line by a distance, we might simply move our line out farther and add something to the mix we have now. Benefits of experiencing the other side can range from a new job opportunity, a new locale with more like minded people, or expanded prospects. The other side might simply include things that make our life better. That might mean new conveniences, fewer stresses, welcome cross pollination of ideas. It might expand our capacity to try more because we’ve gone to a place we’re frightened of and succeeded. The benefits are probably unseen because we’ve been comfortable on our side of the line.

Let’s cross the line and do something over there. This does include taking a risk and probably getting out of our comfort zone. It is also likely to build our bravery, increase our inventory of good stories to share with others, and bring us new friends and opportunities. Think of the kid who always asked the pretty girls for dates. He was turned down many more times than accepted. Yet, by simply asking there was the chance that she might say, “Yes.” And some girls did say yes. This guy probably had the ability to bounce back from rejecting, creative ways to approach the girls, and a lot of fun. He likely didn’t take the rejection as a blow to his ego but looked at rejection as simply the need to redirection his attention and try again. Resilience describes that guy!

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So let’s get ready and cross the line with something small like driving a different route to work or big like replacing the usual vacation location for somewhere new. The whole idea is to grow, have fun, and experience something fresh.

Let’s list a few possibilities to serve as triggers for you to decide what to try.

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  • Eat lunch with someone different once a week for the rest of the year so that you meet someone interesting and increase your business network.
  • Get a recommendation for a new author in your favorite genre. Amazon’s suggestions is a place for ideas. Enter you favorite author and Amazon will say, “People who buy this also like….”
  • Try instant messaging if you’ve been technology challenged.
  • Dress in a style that someone else identifies for you. Invite someone with a look you like or whose taste you appreciate to help you select the top, bottom & accessories and give it try.

Let us know what you try and how it goes. The alternative is to stay in same old same old ~ hope you love it there if you do.

Susan Sabo is the creative mind at ProductivityCafe.com. She works with clients to help them get the right things done and to get home at a reasonable time. Her biggest step over the line was into the mountains of Nepal – Torang Pass at 18,000+ feet. Her toes got nipped with frost bite while her limits were reset beyond all previous boundaries.

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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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