Black-eyed Peas and procrastination

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Hi, my name is Kevin, and I am a procrastinator.

My natural bent is to put off what is not pleasant until there’s a hard deadline, and then I get it done. I work really well under pressure. Not sure if that’s the cause of my procrastination or the trained result of it. Over the years, I’ve developed various disciplines to cure, remove, or otherwise fix or compensate for this personality trait of mine. The “system”, for lack of any better term, that is easiest to do, to understand, and to explain, which helps me not procrastinate is something everyone can relate to: dinner.

I was raised in the “clean plate club”, meaning whatever arrived on your plate is what you ate for that meal, even if you didn’t like it. I continue this in my parenting as I teach my kids to “take all you want, but eat all you take” as well as to eat whatever’s put in front of you, especially when you’re eating at someone else’s home, and never ever complain about a meal.

Now, how does that relate to being an entrepreneur and also being a procrastinator? Well, let’s take your tried and true traditional southern meal on New Year’s Day: pork chops, mashed potatoes (or rice), gravy, something green, and black-eyed peas. I’m good with just about all of the aforementioned foods, except if the “something green” is collard greens and those unsubstitutable black eyed peas. So, this year when we dined at my sister-in-law’s home and she served this exact meal, I had some deciding to do.

Would I set the example for my teenagers? Would I hold to southern tradition? Would I maintain my lifelong membership in the clean plate club? To all of the above, the answer is “yes”; however, since I detest black-eyed peas, I had to further decide how I’d go about working through this otherwise fantastic plate. That’s when it occurred to me that I would go about it the same way I go about not procrastinating doing work that has to be done but that nobody really enjoys.

In other words, those tasks that you have to do to maintain your business at any stage…do those first. Then there are the tasks that you relish, you love, and you do best. That’s your zone. Always save those for last. Get the crap…er, I mean that black-eyed peas out of the way first. Then they’re gone, done, and you’re moving on to the things you enjoy and do best.

Yes, there’s a certain discipline that must apply here in your job more so than at New Year’s Day dinner. I must choose always to do the garbage work first. Always. Otherwise, I will simply put it off until there’s tremendous pressure to get it done, and then the chances are good that I won’t do it well and may not get it done by the deadline, or that something else will suffer because I procrastinated.

So eat those black-eyed peas first. All of them. Then move on to the tender pork loin, potatoes and gravy, and enjoy. How do you discipline yourself to get your most hated tasks done?

What do you think?