January 20, 2021•773 words
"Dost thou love life? Then do not squander time, for that is the stuff life is made of" - Benjamin Franklin
I have spent my life trying to get too much done - too many lists and lists of lists everywhere. So much so that ACT has helped me realise that I actually use, the need to provide more efficient ways of being productive for me and my small team, as a way of procrastinating from the actual work.
As an example
I run a company providing training and consultancy. As the foundation training is certified with the UK body in the field there are certain criteria which change year on year around the data you collect from customers and their participants (some of which are independent of an employer). I started the company in 2013 and as a side project, I have built my own online admin system so a trainer can log in and upload all the information - leading to the system spitting out the PDFs for reports, certificates, including submitting to a printer to have card glossy certificates posted directly. Generally collecting all the information needed (inc. trainer - CPD log, doc compliance etc.) to spit data out to the assessor of the certifying body in the format needed.
I have even designed the ability for anyone who optionally puts their email address (GDPR compliant) on the registration form to be able to access and download their own PDF certificate online. The administrator for a customer can log in and see all the reports and notes from any training including downloading a spreadsheet of those inside the annual certificate window and those just outside. They can download their own certificates for their staff and order the glossy prints just like an in-service associate trainer is able to do.
This in itself is a side project, I have never intended to sell it, I built this as an ongoing project doing all the coding from the database up. As an example, every year I know that at Xmas break I will have enough time to get into the guts of the code and achieve a task that has been waiting. One of the things my Advisor (in my head) does is think up ways I can make it all more efficient. However, this is all a distraction.
Acceptance and Commitment Training (Therapy) has many foundations with loads of research behind it. I am not here to tell you loads on that as you will find more on the Psychological Flexibility 4 all site however the one key procrastination area has been this realisation that sourcing the most efficient system for productivity has reduced productivity over a long number of years.
I do not mean the building of my admin system which I call backoffice and gives me an enormous sense of achievement or accomplishment. It certainly reduces the admin considerably for each and every type of training we deliver.
I actually mean the number of hours I spend looking at things such as apps for project management and getting control of todo lists. This is the real procrastination beast not, in my case, social media.
It also does not hamper my ability to deliver the income-producing activity such as delivering training however I gave up marketing years ago as the company is fine on word of mouth.
The procrastination is around the books I want to read, the constant courses I am a participant on, etc. Even writing this at 4 am is a distraction from the task that woke me up early, but again I get some positives out of this too.
In behavioural terms, we all find things to do that become more urgent in our heads when we have tasks todo. The thought actually doing a task creates uncomfortable thoughts, sensations and emotions. We do things to short term relieve this tension that may not be in line with the longer-term progress of our values and goals. - It was an old story in education when we had an assignment to write we managed to get a clear desk and all the laundry and housework done instead of starting the assignment!
My Advisor is telling me that searching for better ways to run todo lists is like "governance" and also that I will post more on procrastination - as there is so much more to discuss, however - I think I shall put that off till another time! :-)
When you have things to do and you know you should be doing them - what do you find to do instead?