Having recently watched The 10 Commandments, starring Charlton Heston, I was reminded of the Biblical account of the plagues that came upon Egypt, most notably the plague of frogs and how we can sometimes feel overrun by all the things we need to get done. There was no escaping frogs. They were everywhere. Frogs were in their houses, bedrooms, beds, ovens, even in their jars of flour.
Sometimes it can feel that same way when our to-do list grows exponentially, as we go from one meeting to another, taking on more action items to complete. Everywhere we turn there is something that needs to be done. No matter where we are, whether at home, in bed trying to sleep, making dinner, or with our friends, we think about all the tasks that need our attention.
When Pharaoh had seen enough frogs he summoned Moses to finally put an end to the problem. When Moses asked Pharaoh when he wanted Moses to take action, Pharaoh replied, “Do it tomorrow.” With millions of frogs in the land of Egypt and the opportunity to rid the land of the problem, Pharaoh did what so many of us do when overwhelmed by a growing list of demands, he delegated it to tomorrow. Pharaoh, the King of Egypt, in one act, became Pharaoh, the King of Procrastination.
Overcoming procrastination is never easy but there are some steps that can be taken to help move toward a more aggressive approach to completing tasks, satisfying commitments, and fulfilling responsibilities.
Summarize the Problem (Tasks)
Creating a to-do list is one of the most important components of completing and fulfilling one’s obligations. Too often people attempt to keep a running list of all their tasks, promises, and commitments in their heads only to forget what was promised to whom and by when.
Don’t forget, there’s an app for that. Task management software and apps by the dozen are available to assist in one’s effort to compile and track all your to dos. Ta-da List, Evernote, and Remember the Milk, are just a few of the more popular apps that can be downloaded. If writing out a list of tasks is simpler, then grab a piece of paper and do so. Use a journal to track your daily list, a wire bound notebook or a Franklin Planner, but whatever you do, write it or log it somewhere.
Prioritize the List
Since thoughts of what to do come at us randomly, it’s good to list the items as they come. Take the time to list all that you need to do and then assign a priority rating to each item. Develop a priority rating schedule that works best for you but you may want to consider 3 priority categories to choose from such as:
- tasks that must be done promptly or immediately,
- tasks that should be done soon, and
- tasks that can be delayed without any problem.
Capitalize on the Opportunity to Do It Now
Once your list is summarized and prioritized it’s time to capitalize on the opportunity to do it now. Get to work on completing the items on your list, check them off as you go and move unfinished tasks to the next day. Keeping a prioritized list will minimize your thoughts to procrastinate and help you get more things done, allowing you to sleep better at night.
Remember, when there are frogs in your flour, act now!
Written by Mark Turner.