Big Picture Thinker? Probably a Procrastinator.

If you’re somebody who likes to see the big picture, you already know whether you’re also a procrastinator or not. Any system requires multiple steps from start to finish. You want to see the way the system works and how one step leads to the next. And along with your preference to understand, you’re likely to put things off.

Here are a the two most likely reasons why:

1. You’re impatient for results. And when the system is all on you, you try to do too much, too soon, and you burn out on it.

Think of the guy who just set some kind of fitness or weight loss goal. He sees the whole system; his daily exercise and diet plans for the next three months are laid out. But then he decides he can reach his goal faster if he pushes himself a little harder for the first month.

He finishes the first week, and he’s doing great. He’s excited because he can already see the progress he’s making. Week two ends, and he’s excited, but a little more tired than he thought he’d be. By the middle of week three, there are all kinds of little aches and pains. He takes one day off to recuperate. One day won’t throw off his plan since he figures he’s ahead of the game. The second day, he’s not feeling better. The third day, he’s lost more than half of his motivation. Week four doesn’t begin.

2. A lot of you big picture people are perfectionists. You want to make the whole thing better, so you spend time researching and planning instead of doing.

The first time I tried to organize my desk and office space, I got hung up on details. I spent hours looking at pictures of lovely home offices and desk organizers, measuring and designing furniture layouts, and trying to make my stuff and my work match what I was seeing. It didn’t, so I’d run out of steam and leave a pile of books and papers and the tape measure on my desk, which only attracted more clutter, which eventually dribbled bits of itself onto the floor. And it stayed that way until I started the process all over again. But it never quite got done. I felt bad about it because I wanted to do it as perfectly as other people, but it wasn’t working.

My work space now

If this is you, it doesn’t have to be. There is an awesome trick to get you back on track and making steady progress:

You are not God.

You don’t get to create instant perfection just because you say so. It’s gonna take time, and it’s gonna re-thinking your definition of perfection.

I promote baby steps, because baby steps are so easy, there’s no reason you can’t do them. Canyon jumps are insane, which is why people don’t do them every day. It’s called a system because it has multiple steps; it’s not meant to be done all at once. You can certainly do multiple baby steps in a day – do a dozen, if you want. As long as they’re small and easy, you won’t burn out and you will make progress. If you take a day off, it’s easy to start up again.

I also recommend that you figure out what works for you. Just because your friend/neighbor/coworker knows somebody that did something one way, doesn’t mean it’s the only way. I learned this with my organization research – it wasn’t working because none of those people had the same needs as me. Once I let go of their ideas, I could evaluate what I actually needed, and then it was easy to see what would work.

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1 thought on “Big Picture Thinker? Probably a Procrastinator.

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