A Tale of Two Personalities

I have a shocking and painful confession to make: At times I’m a procrastinator too.

Procrastination means that you know you need to do something, you’re not doing it and you feel miserable about it.   

I was contemplating why I sometimes engage in this unhelpful behavior. Then I realized I have two different personalities: The Executive and the Worker.

The Executive is in charge of thinking: What to do, when to do it, and why it’s important to do it. The Executive makes it up

The Worker is in charge of physically doing the actual work. The Worker makes it happen.

At the start of each day, when I’m high in energy, the Executive in me shines: It makes plans, takes charge and creates a vision. After that, it hands the tasks over to the Worker.

Yet, when the day progresses and things need to get done, the Worker runs out of steam. Thinking is hard and small tasks which require even a slight bit of thinking look difficult. It slowly gives in to the temptation of procrastination.

I realized that the secret to overcome procrastination is to force your Executive to define activities for your Worker in such a way that the Worker no longer has to think. It only has to do simple and clearly defined tasks, such as call a number, send a document, or shop online for an item.

In practice it means that a good action list should only contain physical actions which are defined in the clearest, smallest and simplest way possible. These actions can be done mindlessly by your Worker, without an ounce of thinking.

If you take a good, hard look at your action list, do all of your actions meet this high standard of clarity, size, and simplicity?

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