Procrastinate on Purpose: 5 Permissions to Multiply Your Time

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9780399170621: Procrastinate on Purpose: 5 Permissions to Multiply Your Time

From the New York Times bestselling author of Take the Stairs—a bold new way to get things done.

New York Times bestselling author and sales-performance trainer Rory Vaden brings his high-energy approach and can-do spirit to the most nagging problem in our professional lives: stalled productivity. Millions are overworked, organizationally challenged, or have a motivation issue that’s holding them back. Vaden presents a simple yet powerful paradigm that will set readers free to do their best work—on time and without stress and anxiety.

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About the Author:

Rory Vaden is a Self-Discipline Strategist, Cofounder of the international training company Southwestern Consulting, and a New York Times bestselling author. As an author and business motivational speaker, Rory's unique insights have been shared on Oprah radio, as well as in BusinessweekPublishers Weekly, and SUCCESS Magazine. He is the author of Take the Stairs: 7 Steps to Achieving True Success.

Excerpt. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:


Where I’m Coming From

You are about to radically alter the way you think about time.

And if you’re like the Multipliers you’re going to read about in this book, then chances are you’re (justifiably) protective about what you allow to enter into your mind and whom you allow yourself to learn from.

To me personally, there is nothing more frustrating than learning something from someone who hasn’t done what they are talking about.

The ideas in this book come from a variety of disciplines, but one thing you can be sure of is that they have been tested through the fire of real-life situations—including my own. Like most business books you will read, my writing includes original data from polling and statistical sampling that we have done, as well as through synthesizing existing publications and academic research. At Southwestern Consulting, however, while we do appreciate academic research, we pride ourselves on being practitioners, and on providing strategies that are of real value and not just a pithy pitch.

In other words, these aren’t just principles we have gathered from a smattering of sources and that work in theory; these are principles that we are actually practicing in our own company and learning alongside you.

I cofounded Southwestern Consulting with a few other partners in 2006. Shortly thereafter, we merged with some colleagues in London who had been working toward a similar vision since 2001. Since that time, we have grown organically to more than seventy team members and we have worked with more than seven thousand different sales teams.

Our core business is providing one-on-one accountability coaching to salespeople. At the time of this writing, we have personally coached more than twenty-seven hundred salespeople, sales leaders and entrepreneurs. That means we’ve been tracking the daily activity of how each of these people spends his or her time for six months or longer. When you work with people at such a close personal level for that amount of time, they are no longer just clients; they become friends.

And more than 75 percent of our “friends” say that “time management” is their biggest challenge and the reason they got into coaching. Because, you see, to a commission-based salesperson or an entrepreneur, time really is money, and it has become more difficult and stressful than ever before to keep up with the growing demands on our time. The most common phrase our clients use to describe their daily work challenges is that they feel like they are always “putting out fires.” It is a challenge that we understand because every single one of our coaches—including me—is a salesperson first and a consultant second.

We all sell and service our own clients. It might be more efficient and profitable for us to have some people sell and to then just hire a team of consultants to do the coaching, but then we wouldn’t know what it feels like to be in a position like our clients’. We wouldn’t be practitioners. And so it is through our struggle and through all we’ve learned from being alongside our clients that we believe we have stumbled upon some truly unique ways of thinking differently about time. We’ve had to learn how to multiply our time, and this book is going to show you how to do the same—regardless of what type of profession you are in.

Although one-on-one coaching is our primary service offering, we have also tested and implemented these principles in medium-sized companies and big business as well. We’ve provided sales consulting to companies in twenty-seven countries. These clients range from small family-owned businesses to Verizon Cellular Sales and DIRECTV. We help companies build more of a sales culture by helping them create recruiting processes, custom sales scripts, incentive and compensation plans, custom sales, customer relationship management (or CRMs) and anything else they need to hire, train and motivate salespeople. Our U.S. corporate headquarters is in Nashville, Tennessee, and we have offices in London, Singapore and Sydney.

We know sales. We love sales. We believe in servant selling and we have for a long time.

Our parent company, the Southwestern family of companies, began in 1855 (back then Nashville was the southwestern part of the country, which is where our name comes from) and is one of the oldest privately held businesses in the United States. In 1868, our flagship sister company began working with college students, helping them finance their way through school by training them to sell Bibles and other books door-to-door during their summers. Over the last hundred and fifty years, the company has remained true to that core business, and still today nearly three thousand college students spend their school years building a team of friends and their summers selling a subscription-based web product called “Southwestern Advantage,” which supplements what kids learn in school, helps parents help their kids with homework and instills the kinds of life principles contained in my books. Working with Southwestern is one of the most challenging and rigorous opportunities a young person can become involved with—and yet it is positively life changing.

Alumni of Southwestern include Marsha Blackburn (U.S. Congresswoman from Tennessee), Max Lucado (bestselling author), Jeff Sessions (U.S. Senator from Alabama), Rick Perry (governor of Texas), Ronnie Musgrove (governor of Mississippi), Mac Anderson (founder and former owner of Successories Inc.), Bruce Henderson (founder of Boston Consulting Group), Chinh Chu (senior managing director with the Blackstone Group), Donna Keene (former chief of staff for the Department of Education), and thousands more. Oh, and don’t forget me—I worked in the program for four years as a recruiter and sold door-to-door for five summers, over which I earned a combined total of about $250,000 to help pay my way through college and grad school.

The Southwestern family of companies consists of more than thirteen different business units in different industries, including the number one Raymond James financial planning office in the world, one of the fastest growing direct sales companies (Wildtree), and the largest school fund-raising company in the world (Great American). All together we have more than four million customers a year and generate several hundred million dollars in revenue.

At Southwestern, our mission is simple: to be the best organization in the world at helping people develop the skills and character they need to achieve their goals in life. So while there are many things that we do as a corporate family, the primary reason we exist is simply to help people achieve their goals in life.

Let’s start with yours . . .

Part 1

The Truth About Time


What You Thought You Knew

Everything you know about time management is wrong.

That is the premise we started from as we began the journey of trying to answer the question “How do the most successful people today choose to spend their time?”

After working with more than seven thousand different teams in twenty-seven countries and coaching more than twenty-seven hundred people one-on-one in their daily lives for six months or longer in the past eight years, our team at Southwestern Consulting has validated that premise.

Successful people think differently. And it is their thinking that shapes a different set of choices they make, which ultimately yields incredibly different results from the rest of us.

The most popular frameworks that the majority of the working world uses to understand, discuss and dissect time management have either been drastically enhanced or completely discarded by the people who most effectively multiply their time.

Why do these people think differently?

It’s not because they wanted to; it’s because they had to.

It’s because these Multipliers have realized that creating the next level of results requires the next level of thinking.

It’s because the pressure to produce results has increased, but so have the tools available to us to achieve those results.

It’s because they know that, as it relates to the demands on our time, things have changed.

Consider a given day . . .

We get up. We get ready. We run errands. We pay bills. We do housework. We cook. We eat. We clean up. And then we get ready for bed. These tasks alone can tally as much as five hours of time a day. It was reported in Newsweek that the average person spends one hour a day . . . looking for stuff!

When you add in the routine daily work tasks, the number of hours grows even larger. We recently did a six-month analysis of more than eight million e-mails coming into companies from a half-dozen different industries, and found that the average executive gets 116 e-mails every single working day.* Obviously, however, it’s not just e-mails we have to keep up with. Voice mails. Text messages. Meetings. Conference calls. Paperwork. Reports. Social media updates. It’s not uncommon for working professionals to spend more than three hours every day keeping up with the basic routine activities—before we even get any real work done.

The result is that a new form of procrastination runs rampant. Quickly and quietly it has engulfed the workplace like a swarm of killer bees, creating a host of insidious problems:

   · Stifled innovation
   · Employee turnover and burned-out human capital
   · Perpetuating miscommunication
   · Failing projects and missed deadlines
   · Disengaged and underutilized team members
   · Wasted potential and a culture of overwhelming speed, stress and anxiety

These are just a few of the destructive by-products of this phenomenon that cost organizations millions of dollars each year. Not to mention the years of an individual’s life that are taken by the pressure that it creates.

Pervasive and powerful, this productivity killer and new form of procrastination is the most expensive invisible cost in business today . . .

Priority Dilution

Unlike traditional procrastination, Priority Dilution has nothing to do with being lazy, apathetic or disengaged. Yet it is the same net result: We delay the day’s most important activities by consciously or unconsciously allowing our attention to shift to less important tasks.

Ironically, Priority Dilution affects the top performers and the chronic overachievers, the people who are well intentioned and trying to do their best job. Because of their extraordinary competency, however, these people typically have more and more responsibility dumped on their plate until they eventually overload.

To someone struggling with Priority Dilution, it can sometimes feel like the harder they work, the more they fall behind. For every e-mail they send out, they get two in return. And each task they complete seems to hold behind it two more additionally that need to be done.

While they work incredibly hard, they seem to find that the Parkinson’s Law is also true: “The amount of busy work always expands to fill the amount of time we allow to be available.”

Their life is often characterized as a constant state of interruption. The most common phrase they use to describe their situation is delivered with a hint of hopelessness in their voice as they plead, “It just seems like I’m constantly putting out fires.”

They are spread thin. Overwhelmed. Under-rested. And they feel like they are falling further and further behind. Unsure if they can keep up with the pace that life is throwing at them, they operate under a dark cloud, sometimes desperately asking themselves in the back of their mind, “Is this ever going to get better?”

If it sounds like I know this person well, it’s because I do; it’s me.

Unlike many of my fellow writers, researchers, speakers and “experts,” being an author isn’t my “real” job. I am an entrepreneur, a salesperson, a sales manager and an executive with a team of now more than seventy people whom I’m trying to serve every day. And while the success of my first book, Take the Stairs, has suddenly made me into an international author, I never thought I was going to write a book on productivity.

That’s because I never set out to solve the world’s time-management problems; I set out to solve my own.

Let’s start by talking about everything I thought I knew . . .

I thought I was so busy

For years I had convinced myself that I was so busy. I would even make mini presentations to myself in my own mind about how I must be “busier” than most people around me.

I would even tell people, “I am just so busy right now.” Over and over people would ask me how I was doing and I would reply with the same melodramatic sigh that communicated just how overwhelmed I was.

It was almost as if I was allowing myself to perpetuate this story that I was so busy because it gave me some false sense of importance about myself. Sad.

Then suddenly out of the blue, one day it occurred to me that the most successful people I knew never complained or even spoke about how busy they were. More than that, they never even seemed to let on to anyone about everything they had going on in their lives.

These were people who were at least as “busy” as me, and who had more responsibilities than I did.

So I asked one of them about it once and she said, “You reach a point where you realize how futile it is to expend energy sharing or even thinking about how ‘busy’ you are. Once you get to that place, you shift to focusing that energy productively into getting the things done rather than worrying about the fact that you have to do them.”

I noticed that they weren’t necessarily working less than me; but they had a peace about them that I didn’t. It was a sense of peace that resulted from their acceptance of their own situation.

What did I take from that?

Quit telling everyone how busy you are. Resist the indulgence of saying “I am too busy.”

Your problem is not that you are too busy; your problem is that you don’t own your situation.

You get stressed and frustrated with distractions, fine—we all do. But your life is your responsibility. Any commitments you have were either made or allowed by you.

It’s not even right to complain or whine to others about how busy you are. You and I have the same amount of time in a day as Gandhi, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Mother Teresa, Michael Jordan or anyone else who has achieved greatness.

Once you own your problem, you empower yourself to create your own solution.

So the first step is to get over our self-indulgent complaining about how we’re so busy or there just isn’t enough time in a day. If you are saying those things to yourself, then you are allowing yourself to be a victim—like I was.

You are not a victim. You are in charge. You are capable. You are powerful enough to decide what you will and won’t do with your time.

But one thing you are no...

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