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March 18, 2024

Who Not How: A Strategy to Beat Procrastination

Post By:
Ciara Gravier
In-House Contributor
Founder & CEO
The Bunker Insurance & Risk Management
Guest Contributor:

No matter how well-organized and disciplined you may be, chances are that you have found yourself from time to time indulging in trivial pursuits (watching TV, scrolling on social media, consuming your workday with tasks that are seemingly easier or more comfortable), when you should be spending that time focused on something more important like a project for work or household chores.

While procrastination can have negative impacts if left unchecked, in most cases, procrastination is not a sign of a serious problem. In fact, it's a common tendency that most of us give in to at one point or another. But if you characterize yourself as a serial “procrastinator”, you may struggle with negative self-talk and negative emotions associated with this identity- and that is a problem.  One that could be impacting you in more ways than one.

The Negative Impacts of Procrastination

When you have projects or initiatives that you continuously push off, the act of procrastination - and the identity that comes with it- can have several negative impacts including:

  • Diminished well being
  • Increased feelings of shame or guilt
  • Limited beliefs about your potential
  • Limited creativity and vision for bigger goals
  • Lack of self-confidence that comes from progress, achievement, and accomplishment
  • Physical health issues due lack of proactive self care or delay in seeking necessary medical treatment 

Even when we do finally push through the procrastination and achieve our goals, the reality is that we aren’t always left with the feelings of satisfaction or joy that come with accomplishment. For some, the procrastination battle can sometimes leave us feeling angry, frustrated, or resentful towards ourselves. We might resent the delay in our gratification and progress, we might lament in feelings of guilt and shame for our initial “laziness”, we might doubt our potential and capability for the next goal in line. 

If you are a chronic, self diagnosed procrastinator - recovery begins with removing the negative connotation this identity brings. This can be a challenge, particularly for high achievers. But you must give yourself grace. 

Oftentimes, procrastination can be a symptom of wanting more while operating at max capacity. The good news is overcoming this can be as simple as making this one change.

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Unhooking from Procrastination

If your procrastination is a byproduct of wanting more while lacking capacity or capability, then you must begin to approach projects and initiatives in a new way. Instead of asking yourself, “How will I do this?”, ask yourself, “Who can help me do this?” 

If we create a reality in which we are doing everything ourselves, then we can only construct a reality with the strength of one. But if we enroll others, we can construct a reality with the strength of many. And when there are “many”, there is the capacity for bigger, better, and more.

To really succeed and reach a higher level of productivity and performance, you have to shift from a how-mentality to a who-mentality. By focusing on who should be doing this task, or who could be doing this task, you will quickly find that the secret to accomplishing more and meeting timelines lies in the art of delegating.

Applying the “Who Not How” philosophy, an idea from Dan Sullivan, founder of the Strategic Coach Program, requires two things: 

  • You must be radically explicit about your goals. 
  • You must ask yourself, “Who can help me accomplish this goal?”

Most of us are moving so quickly, managing so many competing priorities, that we rarely take the time to clarify and articulate our goals. Being able to articulate goals is one of the most important and fundamental skills necessary for success, because only then can you identify delegation opportunities and solicit the support needed to achieve these goals. 

I’ve recently applied this philosophy in my business and it’s been critical in shifting my time from working IN the business to working ON the business. In the insurance industry, there are many tasks that can be done by a licensed customer service representative. Admittedly, after procrastinating for several months, I finally took the time to get clear and define what each of these tasks are. I also got clear about how they would be performed, documenting the process for each. This exercise finally allowed me to bring in a “who” for the day to day “how” of my business.

Here’s an example.

My industry demands proactive and consistent prospecting. Cold calling is not dead in the insurance world, in fact it’s an integral part of the business model- but I was the one doing the cold calling. Fifty cold calls a day, five days a week. This was a “how” that was stirring up some serious procrastination in me. Instead of spending another day asking myself, “How will I get these fifty calls done?”, I asked “Who could handle these calls for me?”

Documenting this task and the process for it enabled me to find a “who”. She started cold calling for three hours a day, and was making a minimum of one hundred calls per day. My “who” was carrying out my “how” way better than I was.

Long story short, I’m on my third “who” in six months. 

This has allowed me to have the bandwidth required to focus on bigger goals, while creating the capacity for my business to grow significantly.  I also kicked that procrastination to the curb, and all the negative emotions that came with it.  I began to feel more motivated, more energized, and more confident in my ability to take my business to any height I dared to envision. And you can too, by starting to ask yourself who not how.

With that, I’ll leave you with one of my favorite quotes from Dan Sullivan, and a lesson I have learned to be true through implementing his philosophy:  “Personal confidence comes from making progress toward goals that are far bigger than your present capabilities.”