“Don't put off until tomorrow what you can do today.” – Benjamin Franklin
“You cannot escape the responsibility of tomorrow by evading it today.” – Abraham Lincoln
“Only put off until tomorrow what you are willing to die having left undone.” – Pablo Picasso
When it comes to powerful quotes about the importance of immediacy in action, I can’t compete with the gentlemen above.
Fortunately for me, the Less Doing Blog isn’t a quote contest—it’s a place where we harp on key ideas and concepts to help those in our community bring about positive change in their lives.
This week (as you may have already guessed) I want to talk about the importance of living and acting right now.
The Procrastination Problem
All too often we fall victim to the “I’ll-do-it-later” narcotic.
Why?—because it’s easy.
It feels good to have something pushed out beyond our mind’s field of vision. It creates a sense of stress relief that, in the moment, feels soothing.
Like any drug, however, the effects of “I’ll-do-it-later” are temporary and when they wear off, that stress you were feeling earlier will come roaring back with a vengeance.
The solution?—take another, less-effective dose of the “I’ll-do-it-later” prescription or try something different…something like direct and immediate action.
The Impact of Right Now
Practicing right now means a task is done.
Never to be thought of again…unless of course it’s recurring—in which case you have automated or outsourced it, right?
RIGHT NOW may not always be convenient or easy – in fact, in the short term it can increase stress – but, in the long run, it’s far better for your mind and body than habitual procrastination.
Why?—because practicing right now makes us immensely more productive, and high productivity brings us that much closer to a “cleared plate”.
Immediate Action à Higher Productivity à Greater Task Achievement à Decreases Overwhelm à Lowers Overall Stress Levels
Understanding What Right Now Means
Right Now doesn’t mean take the garbage out in five minutes and it doesn’t mean call your mom when you get out of the car.
Right Now means right NOW!
There are so, so, SO many things we can do right now that we put off for no good reason.
Earlier today, I found myself parking the car on a busy street, with two toddlers in-tow. They’re barely in the stroller when my iPhone vibrates to remind me about a call I need to make to the nanny agency our family uses.
Could I make the call in ten minutes when we’re back in the house and I’ve got the kids out of the stroller?—absolutely. But why would I wait that long?
Walking down the street while pushing a stroller isn’t an optimal time for an important phone call, but waiting until I get home is an unnecessary delay and therefore an inefficient use of my time.
More importantly, as soon as I get home something else will start tugging at my attention—a crying baby, an unexpected email, an unscheduled phone call from a potential client—you get the idea.
The “something else” means I will:
1. Further delay my call to the nanny agency
2. Call the nanny agency and delay action on the “something else”
It’s a compounding effect that will – over the course of time – kill my efficiency and productivity.
So what did I do?—I called the nanny agency right then and there. Task complete.
Services Can Help Us Put Right Now into Practice
You don’t have to go it alone when it comes to doing things right now, there are a ton of services out there to help you.
The other day, my wife asked me to return a pair of shoes to Zappos—not exactly a task that screams “right now.” I could have very easily agreed to her request with a “sure, I’ll do it when I have a free moment,” but how often do those come up when you’re an entrepreneur with three kids and a pregnant spouse?
Rather than delay, I practiced right now by taking advantage of a service—Shyp.
She gave me the shoes. The shoes went in the box. The box went outside the front door. A picture of the box went to Shyp.
Thirty minutes later, someone from Shyp took the box from our doorstep to seamlessly handle the return.
The task was completely off my plate, freeing my mind of any lingering “shoe return burden.”
Doing things “right now” is easy in theory, but not always in practice. I understand there will be times when right now just doesn’t make sense.
The point here isn’t to make immediate action on every task a hard and fast rule—doing so would be impossible. The point here is to remind you that your willingness to procrastinate could be the very source of the overwhelm you’re feeling.
Make a conscious effort tackle tasks as they arise.
Avoid unnecessary postponement and watch as your productivity soars and your stress plummets.