set goals

The Mañana Habit, Its Bad Effects, & 5 Ways to Fix It

When I was in third grade, my teacher told us that “Mamaya na” or Mañana Habit is a dream killer. Mañana habit prevents you from getting started. To achieve anything of worth, we must finish what we start.

We cannot get anywhere if we cannot even make the first step. People who are slaves to mañana habit must set themselves free to succeed.

“Hindi mamaya na. Ngayon na!” My teacher raised her voice so we can all hear.

Not later; now. I did not forget.

But I realized that it was not really easy.

Where I grew up, people around me had no sense of urgency. As long as we get to eat each day, that would be okay. Life happened to us. It passed us by without our notice. I am not giving an excuse. Where you live influences you a lot.1 It does not mean that people in the slums are lazy. They work hard. But there is no sense of urgency.

But even those who have more in life can’t easily get rid of the mañana habit. I was a school teacher for about ten years. I was teaching rich kids. Procrastination is the main cause of bad stress.

Knowing about the bad effects of the mañana habit does not always force us to get rid of it.

What is Mañana Habit?

Mañana Habit is the default of those people who put off until tomorrow what can be done today. There are many things you can do in a day. It is okay to put off until tomorrow the trivial and the less important things. But there are tasks you have to do for the sake of progress or production.

For example, when you are working on a project, some people need something from you before moving. So unless you finish your work, they cannot begin. However, if you keep on putting off until later or tomorrow, they’ll keep on waiting.

In offices, for example, your boss told you to distribute a document so others can read and sign it. You still have three days before the deadline. You can send the document first thing in the morning. However, if you send those documents a day before the deadline, it is unlikely that you will get them to read and sign it. People have other things to do. Unless you send the document at once, it won’t be in their calendar.

Mañana is a Spanish word for “later” or “tomorrow.” But, unfortunately, there is always later or tomorrow until you reach the deadline.

Mañana Habit is procrastination2 I encourage you to read my article on procrastination. turned into a lifestyle.

(Note: procrastination is not an onli in the pilipins problem. It is a problem everywhere. It is not the same as Filipino time too.)

Mañana Habit makes us feel bad about ourselves.

I remember a conversation with one of my students.

“I think I am a bad person. I know what to do but I did not do it. Mrs. Reyes has given us three weeks to work on this project. I will not sleep tonight to finish this. And I have three more projects to start. This is all my fault.”

“Do whatever you can tonight. Next time, cram early,” I answered.

Mañana Habit does not make you a bad person. At best, manana habit only demonstrates the kind of choices you make. Yes, procrastination is a choice. It is your choice not to do what’s important. It is your choice to do what’s important, though not pleasurable.

Doing the less critical work does not make you a procrastinator. On the contrary, I know many productive people who start with two-minute tasks first before they do deep work. 

I check emails first and answer most of them before I do my 1000-words writing for the day. Then, I tend my garden for some minutes before I start working on modules or schedule a meeting with customers. 

I know when I am procrastinating, though. 

I have a challenging project, but I choose to write comments on Facebook about issues of the day. Unfortunately, people like to answer my comments. I get notifications. I felt the urge to read and respond. Three hours later, I am still not working on my project. I know that my time is getting shorter, but I chose to procrastinate.

Yes, I procrastinate too. I know it. I am not proud of my choices. That’s why I am writing this. I want to share with you some hacks that work for me. I hope that these will work for you too.

I am a solopreneur. I don’t have employees, though I have people who work for me as retainers and on-call consultants. So you can say that I own my time.

Well, not really.

If you are working from home, not everyone understands what you do. You have relatives who expect you to help them when they need you. I have been working from home two years before the pandemic, and people find it difficult to adjust.

Some people even think that I am jobless and dependent on my wife. But, unlike you, they have not read my blog nor attended my workshops. 

I am sharing these examples to show that doing the less significant first is not Mañana Habit. Choosing not to do something is not procrastination.

Procrastination is choosing not to do what you ought to do because you avoid it or want something more pleasurable to do.

Mañana habit makes you delay the most important because it is a habit. It means that when you have challenging tasks, your default is to avoid doing them until you have no choice but to do them.

The cure to Mañana Habit is another habit. I don’t know how to call it (I will think of a better name), but for now, let’s call it the Action Habit. This habit comes with awareness, commitment, deliberate training, and practice. 

Okay, you may call it Pro-Active Habit. 

You must have read about pro-active attitude before. You know that proactive employees take the initiative. They don’t wait for orders, and they get themselves ready for future challenges. 

A proactive person looks into the project (or problem), considers solutions, then acts. If you like to get updates when I write about Proactive Habits, send me an email.

Before I proceed, I won’t assume that every reader knows what Mañana Habit is. So, let me explain it a bit. Of course, you can get more extensive discussion in procrastination.

Five Ways to Fix Mañana Habit 

You have the power to eliminate procrastination in your life. Mañana Habit is a by-product of our choices. We can choose to get rid of it and become more proactive. Find below five ways that can help you change your life.

pause to cure procrastination
Pausing is action. You pause to think and strategize.

1. Pause

Proactive people are self-aware. They know the power of habits. Because of habits, we breathe oxygen without thinking. For example, we brush our teeth every day. We take a bath every day (okay, I know some people don’t, but even that is a habit). 

There are good habits. And there are bad habits.

Pausing gives you to take control and become more aware of what’s happening. Pausing is not delaying. Pausing is your first action. You want to ensure that you will do it right the first time.

Pause to allow yourself to examine, brainstorm, ask questions.

It may take you five minutes, 1 minute, or 15 seconds to do this. But, thisBut, this is a habit that everyone can do. 

During this time, you may ask these questions:

What are my obligations?

In the workplace, everything is urgent. Tasks may not be urgent to you, but there are always urgent to someone else. Those who send you text messages expect you to answer. Those who send you emails expect replies. That’s because they have many things to do in a day.

Not every request or invitation is a personal obligation? However, it is important to know what you ought to do as an employee and as a member of a team? 

For example, do you need to join every meeting? Do you need to be in every webinar? If being in a meeting is not important to your job, then joining it is stealing time from the more important.

What are my priorities?

You set your priorities. You know what’s more important for your organization, for your team, and your career. Yet, it seems that everything is important because every customer (people who need your help) feels that they are important.

One technique you can use is task triage. Think like a doctor who has to help all people but cannot help them all at the same time.

How much time do I have?

You work eight hours a day. If you spend two hours in meetings, then you only have six hours for other things. So even if you are efficient, you cannot go beyond the amount of time you have for a day.

There are twenty things to do. Some are more important than others. Some are urgent to you, and some are urgent to others. With the time you have, which you will do to be more productive and impactful.

Writing this explanation is longer than the time you need to answer those questions. So consider your obligation, priorities, and time.

Goal setting is a cure to Mañana Habit
Goal setting is just one step. One important step.

2. Do the WIGs

If you are familiar with the Four Disciplines of Execution, you know the advantage of doing your WIGs. You may come up with two or three wildly important goals. These goals are not necessarily big or life-changing. Instead, they can be small steps you need to do that will create a great impact. 

Being productive does not mean you have to do many things. Often, it means doing the few things that matter. When you focus on WIG, you don’t have to work 480 minutes every eight hours. You don’t have to work on 100 things. 

You only need to be deliberate in choosing your activities.

If you are familiar with 80/20 principle, your WIG is in the 20 percent that gives you 80 percent productivity. Do more of the 20 percent, and you’ll likely be more productive and less tired.

The beauty of 80/20 is that you can focus on the 20 percent of 20. Four percent of what we can do may create 64 percent. The 4% solution is mindblowing, I know. 

You are looking at 4% that separates you from the rest. Pause for a while and think about it.3 Define what’s most valuable to you before you do anything.

time blocking solves Mañana Habit
If it is not on your calendar, you are likely to say, mamaya na!

3. Block time for your important goals.

If you don’t place the essential things in your calendar, it won’t happen. Instead, you will keep putting it off because trivial activities are easy and more fun to do. 

Earlier, I said it is okay to do the less important first if doing so helps you create momentum. Maybe, you need to warm up. I do not see anything wrong there.

But you’ve got to commit that you’ll start doing your important project at a specific time. For example, if you are writing a book, you can decide to sit down and write every 9 in the morning for two hours, non-stop. It is up to you if you want to have a break. If you do, you can use Pomodoro. 

It is clear to you that you are not delaying it. You committed to doing your project because it is on your calendar. And you value calendar integrity.

to do list solves Mañana Habit
Do you use to-do lists?

4. Practice branching activities.

My energy is highest in the morning, and I am creative in the morning. If I were to do all my creative activities in the evening, I would stay awake until the wee hours. And I do not have the energy to work the next day.

There is a time for brainstorming and creation. There is a time for organizing, editing, and structuring. 

In my experience, I produce more when I batch the creation together. I can easily be in the zone spend my energy and attention on the more difficult task of creation.

What I am saying here is that we have to understand how our body works.

Most often, Mañana Habit is a by-product of how we failed to manage our attention, time, and energy. I tend to put off doing important things when I am tired. I tell myself that I am not in the mood. I am not in the mood because I am tired. And I am tired because I only have three hours of sleep.

Mañana Habit is not a virus. We created it. We can eliminate it too.

5. Make your deep work an event.

You schedule your most important goals by prioritizing them in your calendar. This action shows your commitment.

You can do more than that. Schedule your deep work as an event. Make it something that you will love to do. For one, align it to your personal goals. I suggested you do this when you pause.

You can create an environment for deep work. You can come up with a scoreboard where you record your progress. You can use music to help you stimulate creative thinking. You may close your door put the sign” Do Not Disturb.” 

You are creating an event, and you want your body to know that. Therefore, you won’t put off an event you set up to succeed.

You are not delaying action here. Instead, you are setting your stage.

Before you go, please get a piece of paper and write all five hacks to fix Mañana Habit. 

1. Pause

2. Do the WIGs

3. Block time for your important goals.

4. Practice branching activities

5. Make your deep work an event.

If you want to bring my procrastination courses to your organization, use the form below. Or send an email to leadership@jefmenguin.com

Explore also other ideas that may help you become good leaders.

I wrote articles about public speaking, persuasive speeches, and becoming a motivational speaker. In addition, I have been facilitating workshops on public speaking and presentation skills.

You can also find articles on leadership and supervision. Finally, if you are looking for training opportunities, you can go to leadership training.

Remember, do the most important task today. Do not delay your progress. Live a fulfilled life by taking action today.

Jef Menguin

Resources

Watch: You may learn more ways to manage procrastination by watching these videos.

How to Gain Control of Your Free Time by Laura Vanderkam. In this talk, she shattered the myth that we do not have enough time. If you have read Manana Habit, you know now that have enough time for the unimportant.

We all have free time. That’s why we choose trivial things.

Timeboxing: Elon Musk’s Time Management Method

This is an interesting method. You fix an amount of time for the things you want to do. I have tried this, but I failed. But it works for others. Maybe, you can try it too.

If a superbusy person takes care of his time, maybe we can learn from him.

Read:

Start with Your Big Goals. Your big goals are those that will make the biggest difference in your life.

Batch Similar Task Together. I am sharing here how I used my bullet journal and Pomodoro to batch similar activities.

Time Blocking 101: A Step by Step Guide to Getting the Most from Your Daily Schedule Time blocking is the practice of planning out every moment of your day in advance and dedicating specific time “blocks” for certain tasks and responsibilities.

Footnotes

  • 1
    It does not mean that people in the slums are lazy. They work hard. But there is no sense of urgency.
  • 2
    I encourage you to read my article on procrastination.
  • 3
    Define what’s most valuable to you before you do anything.
Scroll to Top