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#accelerator Sep 17, 2018

Stop Aiming and Start Doing

Research conclusively shows that people must learn to handle time better.

Our own research and that of leading universities from America indicates that sales management correctly assesses a major reason for poor productivity to the lack of time management skills within their sales forces.  In particular, procrastination and interruption top the list of personal productivity killers.

Here are some methods being used by major corporation to curb the time problems.

Procrastinate On Procrastination

A doctor turned to his patient and said, "Bill, I have some bad news and some worse news."  "Hold on now doctor", said the concerned patient, "I can handle bad news and good news but bad news and worse news?"  The doctor asked which one he should share first.  Bill wanted the bad news first.  "Well", the doctor said sadly, "the results of all the tests are in and you only have 24 hours to live."  "What?  That's the bad news what could possibly be worse than that?"   The doctor replied apologetically, "We found out yesterday and forgot to tell you."

It is relatively easy to come up with many excuses for putting things off.  We don't have the time right now.  I will get around to it later.  Let me sleep on it first.  There is lots of time to do that this weekend.  Why do we procrastinate?

The reason is quite simple!  It is easy to put off the unpleasant, difficult and time-consuming tasks.  In essence, procrastination is nothing more than a time waster.  It causes many more headaches than it cures.  Think right now of all the small tedious things you have procrastinated about in the past week, month, year, decade.  They are all cramping your brain. 

So we only do those tasks that scream the most, as it were.  We rush to finish them.  The minute we lick the envelope we notice we forgot to insert the letter.  We start cooking hamburgers only to remember the B.B.Q. gas tank is empty.  There is a cure for procrastination!  Look in a mirror and you will see the cure.  The only person who will manage you is You!

Strategy 1: Start the Task    

Get going, even if you have failed at it in the past.  If you want to win, you must begin.  This seems obvious but if you have been procrastinating at something just make a start at it and you will have begun the process of success.

Strategy 2: Block Off the Necessary Time to Finish the Job

Chances are very remote that you will ever get done without it getting scheduled into your calendar.  We procrastinate forever because we don't block off the necessary time to finish the job.

Strategy 3: See the Job in Bite Sized Pieces

You will never start losing weight if you see the whole project in one lump sum.  An alcoholic would have difficulty picturing himself not drinking for the rest of his/her life.  They can handle not drinking for this 24 hour period.  "One day at a time" is a popular slogan among self-help groups.

Strategy 4: Adopt a “Do It Now” Mentality

People who conquer procrastination problems learn to become "Do It Now'ers".  They never wait until tomorrow to do what they know should be done today.  They put things back after each use.  They refuse to delay.

Strategy 5: Set Up Objectives

We already discussed the need for objectives in life but it bears repeating here as it affects the procrastination dilemma.  Set a goal to accomplish something you have procrastinated doing.               

Strategy 6: Review Accomplishments

Winners in life dwell on their successes.  Losers constantly focus in on their failures.  It is of value to remind yourself of areas you have succeeded in winning the procrastination game.        

Strategy 7: Reward or Punish Yourself

Now I am not espousing deviant behavior by suggesting you conquer procrastination problems by punishing yourself.  What I am suggesting is that you find some way of punishing negative behaviors like not doing things you said you would do. 

One manager I know buys all his staff lunch, out of his own pocket, if he does not have his reports in on time.  If he promises to deliver something and procrastinates, he has to fork out cash and for him this is negative reinforcement for negative behavior.

Similarly if you have succeeded in doing a task you have long procrastinated in doing, reward yourself.  We tend to repeat those behaviors with positive reinforcements and shun the negatives reinforcers.


If interruptions are a problem for you, consider using the strategies listed below.  The way to determine what is a problem with interruptions ask yourself, "Am I receiving low-priority interruptions during high-priority projects?"  If so, consider practicing these steps to curb the time wasting interruptions.

Strategy 1: Schedule Closed Door Periods

Many people think the only time you are really "busy" is when you have a person with you.  A secretary looks into an executive's office sees no one and falsely assumes that he is available.

There is nothing wrong with scheduling time in your daily planner that will allow you avoid the time wasting activity called interruptions.

Strategy 2: Let Others Know You Cannot Be Interrupted

If you want to eliminate interruptions, schedule closed door “uninterrupted" periods.  Let others know you can't be bothered for any other reason than the building is on fire.  And only if the fire is approaching the floor below, at that.

Strategy 3: If Interrupted, Stand Up

Do you want a technique that is guaranteed to cut interruption time in half?  Stand up as soon as an interrupter enters the room.  Simply stand up while they speak.  They will soon get the message, "Be quick, I'm busy".

If someone enters a room to interrupt you and you invite them in and sit comfortably, put your feet up on the desk, offer them a coffee, what message do you think you are conveying to them?  "Sure come on in, let's talk, what I was doing isn't really important.  Use my time in any way you see fit."

Strategy 4: Avoid Eye Contact

Ergonomic experts are now realizing the importance of eye contact in office design.  It plays a role in employee productivity.  They are now designing offices to ensure less eye contact.

I have been on the telephone speaking to someone long distance, someone walks by my office and because we make eye contact they feel free to start speaking to me at the same time. It blows my mind.

So one way to lower interruptions is to make less eye contact with people.  This is particularly true with telephones.  Be sure to face a wall while on the telephone.

Strategy 5: Make Fewer Trips Through the Office

Now this may seem a bit trivial but are you aware how much time is wasted in a day by running for a coffee, water and the washroom?  What I am suggesting is becoming aware that when you leave your work area you are a prime target to get sidetracked.


  1. Schedule a "quiet hour“ each day and consider it non-negotiable.
  2. Don't let others infringe on your valuable “prime-time".
  3. Delegate whenever possible.
  4. Throw out as much correspondence and other paperwork as possible.
  5. Make minor decisions quickly.
  6. Don't waste time agonizing after decisions. 
  7. Start earlier in the morning.
  8. Don't read passively. Search for ideas. Use highlighters. Make marginal notes.
  9. Set a deadline on all tasks and stick to it.
  10. Use a note app on your phone. Don’t assume you’ll remember something, you won’t unless you write it down.
  11. Check email during low energy times (i.e. the last 30 minutes of the day).
  12. If the person you call is not there, try to get the information you need from someone else rather than leave a message to call back.
  13. Don't be a slave to your phone. Put it on Do Not Disturb during the important times of the day (i.e. dinner time).
  14. Use driving time to listen to podcasts. Always be learning.
  15. Shorten phone calls.


Download the PDF here.


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