Precipice: the edge of an extremely dangerous situation; a cliff with a steep dropoff
Postpone: to delay until a future time, put off
I can breathe again. I made my maiden Powerpoint voyage and managed to stay afloat for the duration of the presentation. Obviously I should have done another run-thru on a wall more than 2 feet wide, because if I had, I’d have noticed that the right-hand 25% of each slide was truncated… for reasons I don’t yet know.
I talked to the screen rather than the audience more than I should have, and I had some issues with the remote control… Fortunately, I know my feng shui material well enough that I could talk my way through the glitches, and my Toastmasters club is very supportive of anyone trying something challenging.
As I said earlier, I put off preparing this presentation until the last possible moment… I usually love putting together presentations, but this one filled me with the desire to change my sheets, reorganize my file drawer, clean the toilets…. ANYTHING else. And all this when I absolutely LUSTED for the projector which would enable me to do illustrated presentations.
According to the study center at Cal Poly there are four reasons we procrastinate:
1. Difficult – the task seems hard to do; we naturally tend to avoid difficult things in favor of those which seem easy to us. [this would explain my desire to clean toilets]
2. Time-consuming – the task will take large blocks of time, and large blocks of time are unavailable until the weekend. [especially if you have no idea how you’re going to structure the talk to take advantage of a new medium]
3. Lack of knowledge or skills – no one wants to make mistakes, so wait until you learn how before you start. [I’ve heard so many horror stories about AV equipment failures that I was scared even to try the projector!]
4. Fears – everyone will know how you screwed up. [This didn’t bother me for the Toastmasters talk, but I am preparing for a much lengthier illustrated talk for paying customers next week and screw-ups aren’t really cool.]
Cal Poly suggests the following steps to cure yourself:
- Realize you are delaying something unnecessarily. (Duh… but maybe it’s the “unnecessarily” we need to come to grips with. You have to realize this before days and weeks have passed – like as soon as you feel that twinge of uneasiness.)
- Discover the real reasons for your delay. List them.
- Dispute those real reasons and overcome them. Be vigorous.
- Begin the task.
I do think the secret is just to start anywhere. Set a timer and commit to working at it for 15 minutes. Wait awhile and do it again. This is the swiss cheese approach. Once you’ve eaten a few holes in the project it suddenly seems like no big deal, and you’re halfway there.
What’s your formula?