15 minute Winning at the Waiting until the Last Minute

We have 96 intervals of 15 minutes every day, meaning you have many opportunities to make a difference.  Each day this month, I’m giving you a 15-minute project idea. Pick your favorites to improve your day, yourself or your world. I promise you have time for this.

I knew this would happen sometime in my every day “15-minute project” posting goal, I’m surprised it took until day “W”.  I haven’t posted anything yet today and I’m running out of time.  What do you do when you’ve waited until the last-minute, have loads to do and have a deadline that you’re not sure you’re going to meet? So here it is 5pm, my posts usually are scheduled to go out in the afternoon and I need to get this done ASAP, because I’m going to meet my goal of a post every day. So I’m trying something new, I’ve waited until the last-minute and I’m writing this in the moment–so I’m only spending 15 minutes on it.

Here are a few simple solutions to make it all happen when you’ve waited until the last-minute: 

Prioritize. I woke up today an hour early ready to write my post.  But then I decided since I didn’t have to get anyone else to school on time, I’d go into work early and get some things done in a quiet office.  It turned out to be a very productive day because I’d organized my past, unaccomplished to do lists (yes, I save all of my to do lists until they’re done) into do.com, an online management system that I love.  Because of my work in the morning, I was able to meet with a member of my staff and re-assign 34 tasks for her to triage out to the rest of our team.  Now I know that because I was able to delegate this out, we’ll get everything in that segment of our department done right and on time.  This was more important to me in the morning than the blog post early this morning.

Think about what matters most and focus your energy there.  Maybe you’re best with small projects so you see the element of your success.  Maybe you’re best in the mornings (especially when it’s quiet) to get big projects done, so you know they’re done.  You need to prioritize your precious time.

Tip! I’m still learning this one, when you decide what is important, you also need to decide what isn’t important.  By eliminating the unnecessary items from your tasks, your day, your life; you allow yourself to live more freely and focus on what really matters.  I’m learning to give up on things that don’t really matter, because I need to focus on what does.

Make an action plan. Once I made the decision to come in to work early today, I knew I’d need to find another time to write this post.  So I mentally scheduled it into my day.  I knew I needed to make a title and a topic (both of which weren’t decided in advance–part of my reason for waiting until the last-minute).  With each step of the process, I thought about what needed to be done and made a plan to make it happen.  When you know you’ll have a tight deadline, preparing in advance can save you precious minutes.  Can you bring needed items with you? Can you make a list while you’re waiting in line? Can you delegate pieces to others so everyone can help with the goal? Figure out what it’s going to take to get your goal done and make sure you’ve got the right tools (or people) to make it happen.

Do your action plan. Sure prioritizing and planning are great, but the action is where the real magic happens.  When I sat down to write, I needed to figure out details and fast.  But because I’d planned a few precious details in advance, I was calm, cool and collected–all essential in getting things done right the first time.  Sure stress can help you get things done, but if you’re always stressed and always doing things at the last-minute, it can take its toll on you.  Accomplish this task now. Do it right. And plan for the future so you aren’t caught at the last-minute (like me today) in the future.

Yes, I did write this in about 15 minutes.  But this isn’t the way I like to operate.  I’m a planner.  And I’ll do my experiments for science’s sake–but in the future, I need to learn my lesson (check) and continue to do things well in advance (check).  If you’re traditionally a procrastinator, begin to think about the root cause for this–do you not like the project (think about how to make it fun), are you tired (find out how you can get enough sleep) are you hungry (this is a show stopper for me too–pack a snack so you have enough to eat).  When you figure out the root cause, you’re much more likely to be successful in the future.

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