New study finds procrastination is warded off by considering tasks in concrete terms.
Here’s a summary of the main conclusions from all the studies discussed:
To avoid procrastinating on a task, focus on its details and use self-imposed deadlines.
To stick to a task, while actually carrying it out, now it is beneficial to keep the ultimate, abstract goal in mind.
When evaluating progress on a hard task, when the chance of failure is high, stay focused on the details of the task.
Once tasks are easier or the end is in sight, a more abstract, goal focus is once again the psychological approach to choose.
These findings fit in perfectly with David Allen’s GTD method. It is almost impossible to start a task labeled “fix house.” In order to avoid overwhelming tasks the method says to break down “fix house” into actionable steps (i.e. “go to home depot and buy toolkit” “borrow neighbor’s ladder” “choose new tile for the bathroom” etc.)
Simply put — companies are so focused on what they make (the features and benefits of their products) — that they lose the underlying reason for why they are making those products in the first place.
According to Sinek, so many companies “innovate” by adding more products to their offering, or new features to their products. They are so focussed on the “what.” Adding a camera to a cell phone is not innovation - you can purchase a camera phone anywhere. Sinek’s definition of innovation takes a deeper, more profound meaning, a meaning that when companies adopt, can drastically re-engineer their approach to serving the customer. To Sinek, innovation is the ideas that change the course of industry and society — the lightbulb, the microwave, iTunes.
When working with clients, Sinek employs the Golden Circle Concept, a way of thinking, acting, and communicating from the inside out.
Businesses should first and most importantly, understand and articulate their larger cause, the “why” - and this shouldn’t be to only make money.
Second, businesses should communicate their value proposition, or how it is they do business.
Third, companies should then - and only then - talk about their specific products and services.
The most innovative companies define themselves not by a product or service, but by a cause.
This is why it is so crucial to understand why you are in business. As the market gets more and more crowded, the winners will be those that have a purpose and a compelling story to tell.
High functioning people tend to be very good at pattern recognition: they accumulate lots of experiences (pieces of pattern) and then synthesize them (whole pattern) into something meaningful or actionable.
Some people are particularly good at seeing patterns in lines of code. Others are good at seeing patterns in human behavior, or in architecture, or in the way tennis balls fly over the net.
Where do you see patterns that not everyone else notices?
What do you dread at work? Maybe it’s filling out expense reports. Making a cold call to a sales lead. Giving a long-delayed performance review to T.J. (aka “the Crier”). You dread it, you avoid it, you procrastinate. You check out Google News instead.
There’s a way out of this cycle, and it comes from self-help books. \ Start by thinking about housecleaning, the most unpleasant part of our everyday existence, other than forwarded kitten emails. Here’s a surefire way to fight chore inertia. It’s called the 5-Minute Room Rescue. You set a kitchen timer to five minutes. Then you rush to the dirtiest room in your house — the one you’d never let a guest see — and, as the timer ticks down, you start clearing a path. When the timer finally buzzes, you can stop with a clear conscience. Doesn’t sound so bad, does it?
The trick, of course, is that the dread is always worse than the thing that’s dreaded. So once you start cleaning house, you probably won’t stop at five minutes, especially when you see progress.
Change doesn’t arrive via a miracle. Set the kitchen timer for five minutes and get to work clearing a path.
You want to get something done. But it’s too big to do it by yourself, so you bring in some friends to help out. In your dreams, all your friends just “click”, understand exactly what it is they’re all supposed to do, and do it quickly and effective. In reality, this almost never happens.
In order for any team to succeed, they need someone helping them all stay on track — someone who we will call a “manager”.
Instead of the standard “org chart” with a CEO at the top and employees growing down like roots, turn the whole thing upside down. Employees are at the top — they’re the ones who actually get stuff done — and managers are underneath them, helping them to be more effective. (The CEO, who really does nothing, is of course at the bottom.)
10 Points on Management:
Point 1: Management is a job.
Point 1a: Stay Organized: It’s your job to make sure things get done.
Point 2: Know your team.
Point 2a: Hire people smarter than you.
Point 2b: Be careful when hiring friends.
Point 2c: Set boundaries
Point 3: Go over the goals together.
Point 3a: Build a community.
Point 4: Assign responsibility.
Point 4a: Vary responsibilities.
Point 4b: Delegate responsibility.
Point 5: Clear obstacles.
Point 5a: Prioritize.
Point 5b: Fight procrastination.
Point 6: Give feedback.
Point 6a: Don’t micromanage.
Point 7: Don’t make decisions (unless you
really have to). Point 8: Fire ineffective people. Point 9: Give away the credit. Point 10: You’re probably not cut out for this.
In real estate, before a shopping center is built, they establish the anchor tenants. These are the stores that will be the big draw to bring consumers and more importantly, attract smaller stores to the shopping center. The anchor tenants are often enticed to the shopping center with discounted cost per square foot and other benefits. The theory is the anchor store will bring in millions of consumers. Smaller stores will want to take advantage of these consumers and they will want to establish in the same vicinity/shopping center as the anchor tenant. Then, If store B and C are going to be there, other stores do not want to miss out on the same opportunity and then it will make it an easier sell to store D.
This practice can be applied to any business or service. One example of creating anchor tenants is customer references. When you are coming out with a new product or service, a way to establish the anchor effect is to establish an anchor reference. Some companies offer a discounted price to attract a larger customer to try a new product. The thought is once they have their ‘anchor customer’ other companies will look at using the product. Then, once you sell the product to the anchor customer and two other examples, it will be easier to sell to your third company.
When you are starting your business or service, go after your anchor tenant first and the remainder of the sales will come easier.
There is a fantasy commonly held by many who have been given a liberal arts education but who lack either the talent or the opportunity to practice any of these arts. It runs something like this: Very well. I will spend the first fifteen or twenty years of my life striving in the canyons of Wall or La Salle streets, or in the law courts, or in the long halls of corporations, and during this time, through concentrated exertions, I will pile up enough money to free myself forever from such grubby pursuits, and devote the remainder of my days to the Higher Things: literature, philosophy, music, beautiful pictures. Alas, it is a fantasy seldom achieved.
Ben Casnocha adds:
Seldom achieved indeed: it’s hard to ever pile up enough money to free oneself entirely, it’s hard to get off the treadmill of a familiar activity, it’s hard to rekindle the Higher Thing passion that burned within long long ago. Most people who have artistic interests aren’t talented enough to pursue them professionally full-time. So they do banking, consulting, law, medicine, business, and say to themselves, “Someday, once I’m set for life, I’ll do photography full-time.”
This is usually a wise economic call. I don’t look down on the hard headed photography enthusiast who decides to go into consulting since it’s a surer economic bet. I don’t automatically embrace the wannabe actress who blindly “follows her passion,” moves to Los Angeles, spends 10 years waiting tables, and wakes up at age 30 with zero real prospects.
I will add:
I have seen first hand how easy it is to get sucked in to a lifestyle where you have to spend a lot of money each month just to maintain what you’ve got. I think that people often blow the rare opportunity after college to take a less paying job that allows freedom for them to continue to learn, grow, and create on the side. I have traveled all over the country and seen friends in all cities and careers. The girl making 30k doing creative, fulfilling work in Chicago is a hell of a lot happier than the 80k real estate agent in LA. That being said, there are people who love finance, law, and consulting and those people should not be grouped in this category.
“When I was a young man, I wanted to change the world.
I found it was difficult to change the world, so I tried to change my nation.
When I found I couldn’t change the nation, I began to focus on my town. I couldn’t change the town and as an older man, I tried to change my family.
Now, as an old man, I realize the only thing I can change is myself, and suddenly I realize that if long ago I had changed myself, I could have made an impact on my family. My family and I could have made an impact on our town. Their impact could have changed the nation and I could indeed have changed the world.”
If you want to grow, you need new customers. And if you want new customers, you need three things:
1. A group of possible customers you can identify and reach. 2. A group with a problem they want to solve using your solution. 3. A group with the desire and ability to spend money to solve that problem.
Unfortunately, most of the businesses I am interested in (i.e. music, art, culture, entertainment, bands) are not the ones where the customers have money and are easy to reach (i.e. dentist offices, insurance companies, financial firms, enterprise software etc.)
Is there a large population of people who historically have not had the money, equipment, or skill to do this for themselves and as a result have gone without it altogether or needed to may someone with more expertise to do it for them?
Are there customers at the low end of the market who would be happy to purchase a product with less (but good enough) performance if they could get it at a lower price? Can we create a business model that enables us to earn attractive profits at that price?
Is the innovation disruptive to all of the significant incumbent firms in the industry? If it appears to be sustaining to one or more significant players, then the odds will be stacked in that firm’s favor.