Norton: Is your avoidance behavior putting you on the destination procrastination train? (column)
Have you ever wondered why some of your own tasks and projects get done and yet there are others that seem to fall into the “maybe someday but definitely not today” bucket?
One of the primary reasons this happens for me is because I find myself in avoidance mode and procrastination becomes my destination. And I really don’t enjoy that destination, and I especially don’t enjoy the journey toward the destination of procrastination.
So when I look at certain tasks, to-dos and projects, my typical strategy is to categorize each one the night before or as soon as I wake up and start my day. An (A) task means this is one I must do before I do anything else. A (B) rating is something that is important, and I probably need to get to it before the end of the day.
And then a project that falls into the (C) category means that if I have had a super productive day and can get to it, then I get it done. If not, then it usually becomes an (A) or (B) task for the next day. This ABC ranking system has proven extremely helpful over the years and has helped me prioritize and complete more tasks and projects than I had in the past.
The problem is this (AB) category that has crept in. The (AB) I am talking about is “avoidance behavior,” and with a heavy travel schedule and experiencing a very busy time in my personal and professional life, more and more tasks, to-dos and projects are looking more and more like they should be placed into the “avoidance behavior” bucket. I mean, I just don’t have the time, and that is a sad excuse.
That “maybe someday but definitely not today” attitude had to stop; it was flat out causing me stress, as I worried and thought about what needed to get done, and it was taking my focus off my real (A) tasks and projects and my (B) category to-dos. I had to ask myself the big question, “Why?” Why was I, and why am I, avoiding certain things while getting after the others with purpose and passion?
The internal dialogue sounded like this, “Are you avoiding this because you don’t have the skill to do it?” Or “I should probably put this into the someday bucket because this conversation is going to be uncomfortable.” And here is my least favorite, “Well you know Michael, if you keep putting this off, someone else will certainly do it.” And that last one is never true.
When it comes to doing the things we need to do but avoid doing them because we don’t have the skill, lack the will or we try and pass it off on someone else, all we are doing is practicing (AB) avoidance behavior. Avoidance behavior is a terrible journey and only ends up at destination procrastination.
The simple realization for me was that there are things I enjoy doing and where passion and purpose are easily found to accelerate my behavior. There are other things where I need just a little hope and encouragement and then I am once again hot on my pursuit to getting it done. And now, when I realize I am in avoidance behavior mode, I challenge myself to get after it, get it off the list and do it better than I ever expected to do it.
The byproducts of getting off of the terrible journey of “someday but definitely not today” are easily recognized. First, our stress levels go way down. Second, our distractions and lack of focus on primary projects and tasks are abated. And last but not least, our own sense of accomplishment drives us forward to the completion of other tasks, to-dos and projects.
So how about you? Are you on the destination procrastination train as you settle in comfortably to your own avoidance behavior? Or do you have a system that is working really well to get it all done and where you are feeling super accomplished?
As always, I would love to hear your story at firstname.lastname@example.org, and when we turn our “someday but definitely not today” moments into fulfilling our self-accomplishment moments, it really will be a better-than-good week.
Michael Norton is the president of the Zig Ziglar Corporate Training Solutions Team, a strategic consultant, business and personal coach and motivational speaker. He writes a weekly motivational column for the Vail Daily.