Do things sooner rather than later

procrastination1If something must be done sooner or later, sooner is better.
Procrastination is a vice; promptness is a virtue.

I prefer people who have a bias toward action. Give them a job and it will be done. They stay busy. At work, if they finish their assigned work and have time left over, they look for something else to do.

I also admire people who get work done sooner rather than later. It’s not just that they work fast (this, too, is a virtue); they start early and finish ahead of schedule.

There are advantages of doing work sooner rather than later:

  • Unpleasant tasks will not inordinately affect us. We often postpone the unavoidable when we perceive it to be unpleasant. But when we aggressively pursue all tasks, the unpleasant ones won’t haunt us.
  • Quality will improve. Quality often suffers when we do something at the last minute. Quality improves when we give ourselves sufficient time to complete a task.
  • We can recover from mistakes and setbacks more quickly. The noted philosopher Mike Tyson once mused, “Everyone has a plan until they get punched in the face.” It’s true: projects seldom follow an ideal, predictable path. By starting early, necessary changes are more easily negotiated.
  • Some tasks will take longer to complete than we think. Starting early will provide needed margin to finish on time.
  • Completing responsibilities early will provide us with peace of mind; we can cease pining and relax.

Consider these scenarios:

  • You know your IRS tax return is due on or before April 15; why not complete it in February?
  • Why not write that thank-you note soon after you receive the gift, instead of waiting several weeks?
  • This week, you need to have a tough conversation with one of your team members. Do it on Monday instead of later in the week.
  • Plan your vacation a year in advance.

In my organization, we plan at least 12 months in advance. We visualize what life could look like 365 days from now and make a commitment toward it. We’re also flexible, realizing that plans may change, but it sure helps to prepare ahead of time.

Sometimes, there may be an advantage in delaying action. The extra time may allow you to get more and better information. Circumstances may change which will affect your task. But as a rule, be aggressive in getting work done.

Do things sooner rather than later.

Question: What are your thoughts about this essay? You can leave a comment by clicking here.

Lead Well 2-day workshop – September 21-22, 2016 in the DFW metroplex. Two intense days of life- and career-enhancing training. More information at learntoleadwell.com

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6 thoughts on “Do things sooner rather than later

  1. I love it that your organization plans so far ahead. What a great idea. 🙂 For some reason, many people use procrastination as motivation. A hard and fast deadline forces action. Knowing that about human nature, perhaps that’s why God gives us no clue as to when Christ comes for us. If we know it won’t be for another 20 years, we’ll procrastinate faithfulness. But if He could come before bedtime tonight, I’m more motivated to keep my nose clean. Thanks, Don.

    • Wayne, what a great application. I do believe in setting deadlines; it wakes us up and holds us accountable. Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

  2. Thank you Don.
    What a great statement. I know in my own life from very early losses with my loved ones and husband. It is so very important to tell them you love them every day and plan the life adventures with them as the love and enjoyment God has blessed us with them is so beautiful and precious.
    In all that we do is our testimony.

    • Judy, I had not thought about how this advice (sooner is better than later) can be applied to our expressing words of endearment to our loved ones, but it fits. Thanks for writing. Don

  3. Oh how I wish life were that simple! When you work in recruitment you never know when someone will hand in their notice even if you believe they are happy in their current position. If I could plan one month in advance I would be a happy bunny.

    If there are any other part-timers out there, you will know that stuff happens on the day you are not in the office and so you are always playing catch-up.

    • Angela, you’re in a frustrating position, never knowing when someone is going to resign. You’re right, there are unpredictable areas of life that seem to defy planning. Thanks for sharing your thoughts. Don