Don’t make me chase you– because every step that I take doing so is a step back from making progress. We’re not in grade school anymore, and playing tag over email isn’t very much fun. When you say you’ll do something and then don’t, it makes me feel like you did so with your fingers crossed behind your back.
We’re older now, and all of this running around is hard on the body and mind, and we shouldn’t feel the need to play dodgeball with emails. We’re on the same team trying to deliver results for the client.
If I’m communicating with you, I trust and depend on you. When my advice and instructions fall on deaf ears, it makes me feel like you don’t value my expertise, or are too afraid of failure to take the first step forward.
The first step into a forest is one of the last steps to get out of it. You should not let fear take over and freeze up– most of the time, the solution is right in front of you. By simply communicating, you can alleviate 99% of any issue that can arise.
Even if you’re sick, your wifi is down, you’re out of town, or any of the other various excuses that exist, it’s not an excuse to just go dark. If anything, you should be more on top of your communication when these things come up so you can avoid any potential issues they might cause. That way, the task can be delegated to another team member.
Your team is counting on you. Don’t leave them hanging for days while they assume you’re still doing your part. Let them know something has come up so they can help. That’s what teams are for.
The key is to not get overwhelmed. Often times you may be assigned a task that may seem so large that it feels crushing. Take a deep breath, figure out an action you can take (however small it is) and do it. Just start somewhere. You’ll feel much better about taking baby steps (which is what iteration is) than if you had put it off and made excuses as to why you hadn’t started yet, then having to breathlessly run to the finish line.
If you lack the skills to complete a task, ask for help! If you put something off until later, it will be too late, so handle it while it’s fresh– this means when that phone call comes in or you get that email, you act immediately instead of putting it off.
This is easy to remember: it’s 3 D’s– Do, Delegate, or/then Delete. This, and will alleviate that dread you get thinking about the email you’ve been putting off reading for weeks.
Reach out to your team and utilize what’s around you instead of taking it on alone. Tasks will be much easier, and you’ll be much happier in the process.
The hardest part of getting back to work is always the first 30 seconds when you start working. But sometimes you will amaze yourself how a surprisingly simple task was put off with more consideration than was needed to actually execute the task. The sigh of relief from completion is always more satisfying than the extra moments bought on borrowed time.
Keep in mind what Mark Lack, author of Shorten the Gap, says about avoiding procrastination:
“A great way to avoid procrastinating is to commit to chunking down your activities and taking action towards its achievement no matter how small the effort or time. The habit is more important than the effort.”
Print out this image to help you out the next time you reach for an excuse and remember that it’s always better to take some form of action rather than sit on it.
About the Author
You can find him quoted in major publications and on television such as CNN, the Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, NPR, and LA Times. Clients have included Nike, Red Bull, the Golden State Warriors, Ashley Furniture, Quiznos-- down to local service businesses like real estate agents and dentists. He's spoken at over 750 conferences in 20 countries, having flown over 6 million miles in the last 30 years to train up young adults and business owners. He speaks for free as long as the organization believes in the job-creation mission and covers business class travel.
You can find him hiking tall mountains, eating chicken wings, and taking Kaqun oxygen baths-- likely in a city near you.