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NOW 100%

By Asher Brewster Sunday, April 9 2017

My grandmother used to say confession is good for the soul. So Im confessing today that I am a chronic procrastinator. Donít believe me? Ask my editor. I have to set myself a deadline a few days in advance of my actual deadline or I would never get my articles done in time.

There are some projects I have been working on for years because I gave only a portion of my time and attention. As a young Social Worker I learnt all about time budgets, where you divide your time according to the importance of an activity. Wrong! You know what else is wrong? Multi-tasking.

The real truth behind being efficient and effective is the 100% rule. Whatever youíre doing, do it 100%. Iíve read that 99% is hard but 100% is easy. Be it studies, learning a new language, a diet, saving money or anything else that requires willpower. Committing to something 100% means whole heartedly following through and leaving no room to waver. Itís the difference between a diet where you throw out all the junk food in your house and the diet that lets you have a cheat day where you can eat all the junk food you want. Itís a lot easier to fall off the bandwagon when youíre good for six days but bad for one. When all the rubbish is out of the kitchen, even if you didnít want to, you canít help but stay on the diet.

That is no different when studying. Anomalies aside, teachers know there is a marked difference between a student that works diligently using a study schedule and another that just only opens a book when they feel like it. The results will speak for themselves. Ask any entrepreneur. Want to give your business 99 instead of 100%? Be prepared to stay small forever. Want a chance at success? Give that extra 1% and if you can squeeze another 10%, give that too.

It is a principle well known to project managers everywhere. Any project is broken down into manageable increments. It may have multiple levels and phases but at the end it is all in small steps that eventually arrive at the completion of the overall project. You have to complete each step 100% before you can be rewarded and then move on to the next step. How does this translate into the lives of us mere mortals who arenít building a skyscraper but just want to lose a few pounds or ace an exam?

Remember I said multi-tasking is bad? When you are trying to change something: like break a bad habit, lose weight, learn something new or whatever, donít try to do it all at the same time. Focus on one significant change at a time. When you complete that task, move on to another. While it is possible to make a grand plan, it is also easy to become overwhelmed and intimidated and to quit. Donít bite off more than you can chew (unless itís a kouign amann, in which case itís completely understandable).

Break it down into manageable increments:

You need to find the route to get from point A to Z. While I cannot deny the power of positive thinking, if that was all it took, we could all just think our troubles away. One of the things anyone studying business management learns is SMART goals. They must be Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Time based. This works for us non-business managers too. Using SMART goals is a great way to commit 100% to whatever it is you are working towards. Breaking a huge task into small parts allows you to celebrate each milestone,and to achieve significant change without feeling like youíre having dental surgery without anaesthetic.

Fully commit on a daily basis:

The easiest way to break a bad habit is to replace it with a good one. Are you a compulsive eater? Switch your eating with exercising and youíll have to get a new wardrobe. Want to quit smoking? Start a new hobby to replace your old habits. Youíll be better for it. If you want to go back to school or change your career, the same applies. The way to create a new habit is repetition, the more you do it the easier it becomes. Whether it is inconvenient or you donít feel like it, just do it anyway. Eventually the day will come where it no longer takes any effort. Remember that 100% is easy.

Change takes work:

It isnít easy to change, even when you want to. Change isnít pleasant but it is necessary. In my years as a counsellor, I observed a noticeable point at which an individual was ready to commit 100%. When you have reached the conclusion that you are so disgusted with the current situation that even the unknown is better and you are willing to do whatever it takes. The day you wake up with that thought in mind, youíve already won the mental battle. That doesnít mean however that you donít have to put in the work. Our society is such today that conmen seem to be doing better than the rest of us. Donít be fooled. Any luck Iíve had in my life had a lot of work behind it.

My chronically procrastinating self found, by setting myself a deadline well in advance of the actual one, I am not left all anxious and worried at the last minute. I much rather not live my life in and anxious state, it would ruin my manicures. Tricking myself into an earlier deadline ensures I have peace of mind. You want to know a side benefit? Now I am never late. I know itís not very Trini of me but I donít think tardiness should be a cultural norm. Since I sorted my procrastinating, itís time to give 100% to learning Hangul, that way I donít have to wait a day for English subtitles for my favourite Korean Dramas. Talk about motivation!

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