Last week I learned the meaning of Benjamin Franklin’s quote “One today is worth two tomorrows.”. Well, I suppose it was more like getting hit bya freight train than a simple lesson learned. Here’s what happened:

I have tried to make a very serious habit of writing at least one post a week. I missed last week. It’s not that I don’t like to write or I don’t think that it is important, but I put it off and kept saying “I’ll do it tomorrow, just let me finish what I’m doing now and I’ll get to the post later.”

Last week came and went and guess what didn’t happen...that’s right, a post.

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Now, a few years ago I would have brushed it off and said “So what?”. It’s not like writing is the most or even among the most important things that I do. I don’t have to do this. While it’s true that I don’t have to write, the reason I started writing was out of personal conviction to contribute to others’ success and to lead a life that makes a difference. It is a commitment made out of the interest in helping others grow who are outside of my immediate physical location.

Last week I failed to contribute to the blog and thus failed to fulfill my commitment to those who I intend to help. Due to my failure to prioritize appropriately I was forced to realize that if you get something done in the time that you have set aside for it now you will not have to spend twice as long catching up later.

As soon as I missed the deadline I knew that it was going to mess everything up. Knowing that I couldn’t get the article done in time hit my self-confidence hard. I felt like I was behind in every other part of my work. I knew that I needed to catch up, so that was constantly in the back of my mind and I eventually got to the point where I couldn’t relax at all because I knew any spare time I had should be filled with writing something that should have already been done. I eventually decided to cut my losses and scrap the notes for what I was going to write. It was ruined and all thoughts related to it were tarnished. I was disheveled and had wasted a tremendous amount of time for nothing all because I had lost focus of my priorities. (For more on the scientific explanations of the pain and suffering that procrastination can cause read this article by Eric Jaffe at the Association for Psychological Science website).

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“I’ll get to it later.”

“Just let me finish this first.”

“I just need to check the news/Facebook feed/Pinterest.”

All of these phrases are toxic to someone who is attempting to grow and increase their impact. They make a slow death for the intensity that you need to make things of importance happen. Procrastination causes the important things to take longer than they should and make you less efficient. Of course there are occasions when something has to be put off for the sake of focus, but the thing that gets pushed to the back burner should always be the item with the least significance to you and your mission to help others. All of this seems obvious, but how much more impactful would we be if we abided by the simple rule of “Get the important stuff done first.”?

The reason I failed is that I trusted myself to get the important things done later and in this instance it didn’t happen. I didn’t follow my normal regimen and it threw everything else out of whack. Today I encourage you to find your priorities and create a routine centered around accomplishing them. I hope that you learn from my lesson.