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Jan 2018

The  Snoo-zzz-zzz-e  Button

Delaying action

clock ticking countdown tick-tock


Growing up in Namibia, I spent many of my holidays on my grandparents’ farm, which is in the arid areas of the country. There was no electricity and every drop of water had to be pumped from a borehole. This didn’t worry my grandfather in the least. Regardless of the season, he was up every morning before sunrise, when the old cuckoo clock struck four, and in the kitchen making coffee, before heading out to attend to the work of the day.

He didn’t press a snooze button. In fact, I doubt he ever set an alarm clock. His motto was: “Today, Not Tomorrow”. He knew that when it’s time to plough, that’s what you do, because the rains don’t have a snooze button. The same went for the cows. When they came into the kraal in the early morning, it was milking time. No hitting the snooze button.

The snooze button is an invention which encourages the poor habit of delaying unavoidable action. Pressing the snooze button buys one a few extra minutes’ sleep, but doesn’t make a difference in the long run. Instead of hitting the ground running, we fall prey to this folly of delayed action, which often results in things taking longer in the end. Every time we choose “I-can-do-that-later”, we waste time picking up the thread and re-focussing.

In safety, there are a number of things that, like the rain and milking cows, don’t have a snooze button. Opportunity and risk are two examples. Opportunity normally has a short timeframe and if you press snooze, in most cases, you will lose. The expression: “There will always be another opportunity” is loser’s language. The same goes for risk. Once you have identified it, you have to deal with it, because you can’t put a risky situation on hold. Actually, if you don’t take swift action you will likely create an even bigger risk by breeding complacency.

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Take time NOW to think about your personal snooze buttons.

Questions you can ask yourself:

  • What (and why) will you put off this year?
  • How often do you say to yourself: “I don’t have time now, I’ll do it later”?
  • How often do you allow your work to be disrupted?
  • How frequently do you allow yourself to be distracted from what you are busy with?
  • Have you ever taken note of how many times you use your Inbox, or phones, or meetings as snooze buttons, thereby delaying making decisions, taking charge, seizing an opportunity and choosing to take action?


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