When you think of the phrase “time waster,” you’re probably picturing some lazy guy screwing around when he should be working. Certainly that guy is wasting time, but most people don’t realize there are two other time wasters that are just as common.
These two time wasters actually look like opposites despite the fact they’re both wasting time and not effective in getting results.
The first type of time waster is the perfectionist. This person spends way too much time planning instead of doing. He will only take action, if ever, after needlessly long delays while he gets all of his ducks in a row.
Worse, perfectionists often focus on unimportant tasks and/or unimportant aspects of a larger project. To the perfectionist, every task, every action, is supremely important, and extra care and time must be taken…on everything.
I once had an employee who had trouble getting through to a particular person at a company she needed to talk to. After having an exasperating experience, she spent the entire rest of her day, about six hours, crafting a complaint letter to this company. The next day she proudly presented the letter to me, very pleased with herself about the time and care she took in writing it.
Well, yes, the letter was extremely well-written. It could have won some kind of writing award. But it was not something I wanted her to spend six hours of time on. She had much more important things to do. Thus the danger of being a perfectionist: focusing on the wrong things.
The next type of time waster is the leaper. Leapers tend to be very excited, passionate people. When they want to do something, they don’t plan at all, or plan very little. They just get really pumped up, leap in, and go. They often do everything wrong the first time, meaning they are often spending time:
1. Fixing all the problems they cause
2. Going back and re-doing what they should have done correctly in the first place.
The sweet spot is in-between the perfectionist and the leaper. Effective people are those who think it through, plan it out, get the odds in their favor, and then immediately execute without any procrastination.
You were probably not born an effective person. I certainly wasn’t. Most likely your personality leans naturally to either perfectionist or leaper. You need to be constantly aware of this, so that you “live” in the sweet spot between the two.