My intention was to have this article written well before the deadline, but I’ve been putting it o;, and frankly, my
attention has been on other things.
I’m sure you can relate. You’re dealing with
too much travel, too much to do, and too many
In high school, I was given an award by
my English teacher for my “Propensity to
Procrastinate,” and I’ve gotten even better at it
over time. But procrastinating is never my
intention. I don’t want to be the person who stays up
all night before a deadline, realizing I could do a
much better job if I hadn’t put it o;.
So, how do we stop procrastinating and
consistently bring our best to what we do?
Understanding four words can make a huge difference: attention, intention, multitasking, and
We all have an attention deficit. Our smartphones
are distraction magnets, not to mention the time we
spend on social media and the never-ending news
cycle, all of which can keep us away from what really
matters. Business planning, building relationships,
and our time onstage all require focus and presence.
Sometimes we spend too much time on the things
that want our attention vs. those that need our
attention. Learn to tell the di;erence and say no
when you have to.
FIX IT: Temporarily “break up” with your
smartphone when you’re with other people so
you can look them in the eye and truly listen.
Schedule time for tasks that require your full
focus—and plan for mini-breaks to check the
news or Facebook, but be sure to cut yourself o;
when time’s up.
Before we can pay attention, we need to know
our intention. If I attend a chapter meeting or the
national convention, it’s easier to focus my attention if I’ve determined my intention ahead of time.
Intention precedes the goal. Your goal while
attending an NSA event might be to learn about a
specific topic, such as podcasting. But your intention is the reason why that’s important to you. My
intention for writing this article is to give something back to NSA because I’ve received so much.
FIX IT: Know your “why” before you start
your “what.” Defining the reason why the goal
is important will help keep you motivated when
accomplishing the goal becomes more di;cult.
Most of us are convinced that we’re more productive when we’re multitasking. We fool ourselves
into thinking we can do several things at the same
time—and do them well. I can’t watch the game
on TV while listening to my wife and do both at
a high level. I’m either focused primarily on the
game and half-listening to my wife or vice versa.
Multitasking compromises both our attention and
FIX IT: Realize that multitasking is a myth—
you’re really multi-switching—and it’s costing you
time, not saving it. Instead, plan ahead. Make lists
and prioritize tasks. If you can’t stay focused on
one thing for too long, that’s OK. Take two or
three to-dos and alternate time spent on them—
but make it intensive, quality work. Turn o; email
and text alerts, too, while you’re working.
In a study published in Psychological Science,
Pennsylvania State University psychologists coined
the term “precrastination,” which is a tendency to
do everything immediately, as in right now. It’s why
we feel compelled to text when we’re driving 55 mph.
Our revved-up, ca;einated lifestyle has made
us believe that everything is urgent. But as the
late Stephen Covey pointed out, there can be a
di;erence between what’s urgent and what’s
important. Our focus is best served on what’s
urgent and important.
FIX IT: Make this your mantra: Sometimes
taking no action saves more time than doing something quickly. Every task has an ideal timeframe
for completion. Take time each day to consider
the importance and (true) urgency of what you
need to accomplish. Use color-coding, a ranking
system, or whatever helps you stay on track.
I embrace my “Propensity to Procrastinate”
as something I do well. But like all strengths, it
can become a weakness, and both multitasking
and precrastination need to be done in moderation. Ultimately, attention is about being in the
present moment and intention is about focusing
on the future outcome. Both are important and,
like much of life, it’s all about finding the right
balance for you. ■
CSP, is a speaker/
trainer in the mortgage
his attention isn’t
elsewhere, his intention
is to have a positive
impact on as many
people as possible.
Connect with him at