Should you procrastinate on purpose?
Simply put, there are only so many minutes in the day and success often depends on knowing how to focus our time, so as to get the biggest return. But whereas most people concentrate on what’s most important and/or urgent, there’s a third factor that you need to consider–and it can be truly life-changing.
Rory Vaden is the co-founder of Southwestern Consulting, a multimillion dollar global consulting practice. He's a global expert on self-discipline and productivity, and has been featured on Oprah, CNN, CNBC, among others. His newest book is Procrastinate on Purpose: 5 Permissions to Multiply Your Time.
I recently interviewed Rory to find out the secrets to achieving the right kind of focus. (The transcript below has been edited lightly for space and clarity.)
Kevin Kruse: Tell us about your “focus funnel” which includes five permissions to “procrastinating on purpose.”
Rory Vaden: Basically the focus funnel is our attempt to create a visual depiction that codifies the thought process that multipliers go through when they're evaluating how to spend their time.
There's some deep psychology to this: Just to cut to the focus funnel, is if you picture a funnel, at the top end where it's really wide, that's all of your tasks, your emails, your to-do items all coming in the top of the funnel. At the top, the very first question to ask is, can this be eliminated? Is this even worth doing? It's the permission to ignore. If it can’t be eliminated, then it drops down to the middle of the funnel, which is, can it be automated? The permission to invest. One of the things that we talk about is how automation is to your time, what compounding interest is to your money.
If you can't eliminate or automate it, then that task falls to the bottom of the funnel, which is delegate. That's the permission of imperfect and realizing that 80% done by someone else is better than 100% done by you. If you can embrace the permission of things being a little bit imperfect, for a short term, by somebody else doing it, then that's going to multiply your time in the future.
If you can't eliminate, automate, or delegate a task, then it falls out the bottom of the focus funnel. At that point, there's one remaining question, which is must this task be done now, or can it wait until later? If it must be done now, you have to concentrate: Turn off your alarms, shut your email down, and close your door. Nothing fresh or original there.
But if the answer is yes, it can wait until later, then it falls into a completely different category: procrastinate on purpose, or POP for short, which is where the title of the book comes from. In that case, we call it the permission of incomplete. You're going to pop that activity back to the top of the focus funnel. You don't procrastinate on it forever, but it enters into this holding pattern where it cycles though the focus funnel until, at some point in the future, one of the other four strategies, eliminate, automate, delegate, or concentrate will eventually get executed on it.
Kruse: You also say that the way you multiply time is by giving yourself the emotional permission to spend time on things today that create more time tomorrow. What do you mean by that?
Vaden: It is true that there is nothing you can do to create more time inside of a construct of one day. We all have the same 24 hours, which is 1,440 minutes and 86,400 seconds. That's exactly the problem is that most of us live in what we call the urgency paradigm, which is basically we evaluate things by comparing it to what else we have to do that day. We wake up and we say, “What's the most important thing I have to do today?”
But that’s not how multipliers think. Multipliers don't think about today; they think about tomorrow, and the next day, and the next day, something that we refer to as the significance calculation. Most people score their tasks based on importance, which is importance and urgency. Multipliers have unconsciously made a third calculation, which is significance, which is: How long is this going to matter? In other words, how is this going to matter tomorrow, or the next day, or the next day?
They realize that instead of trying to get the most volume of tasks done inside of one day, they need to only get the one, or two tasks done today. They are the ones that create more time tomorrow. The significance calculation changes everything. You multiply time by spending time on things today that give you more time tomorrow.
Kruse: Is there a specific thing you can challenge readers to try out, that will make them better today?
Vaden: One thing that's super simple, but if you do it, it'll change your life is to read every single day. Read something positive every single day, whether it's a book, a part of a book, or a blog, or article.
I'm just convinced where it's everyone I meet that's so brilliant, they are really smart people. For the most part, they are just synthesizing and then forwarding, ever so slightly, other things that they have read. That's what inevitably makes them great leaders, or great influencers.
Most people don't read after their formal education. The wealthiest people and the biggest influencers, a large majority of them do that every day.
Click here to listen to the full podcast interview with Rory Vaden.