Is procrastination a fancy word for self-sabotage?
Procrastination is one of the biggest time drains there is.
Why do people procrastinate though?
Very often we know that we are procrastinating, we catch ourselves in the act and yet we still do manage to do it well!
If you’re someone that puts off doing things that would bring you closer to your desired goals or you know someone that may be showing signs of procrastination, then rest assured you are not alone and you are reading this article at just the right time.
So why do we continue to procrastinate if we know if it’s not serving our best interests?
Procrastination is a form of self-sabotage, but it is a term that is often seen as a reason, or a sort of get out of jail free card, for our complete lack of action. Procrastination begins with a sort of internal dialogue when we tell ourselves that we can work on the task later, or we may ask ourselves does the task even need completing at all. However, when we look at the facts, it’s clear to see that these are just excuses.
There are a lot of reasons why people might procrastinate, some of these include feelings of stress or overwhelm, and not knowing how or where to start, a lack of a sense of purpose or motivation, or a technology ambush. In some cases, procrastination can be a way of avoiding difficult tasks. Whatever the reason, if left unchecked, it can have a negative impact on life and increase stress levels due to missed deadlines, poor performance and low levels of productivity.
“88% of workers postpone at least one hour of their working day”.
Research carried out by author Darius Foroux found that 88% of workers postpone at least one hour of their working day. Think about all the people in your business and the overall cost that this would equate to. Some common examples of workplace procrastination include, checking personal emails or social media accounts, focusing on low priority tasks and putting off more challenging and high priority tasks, social chats with co-workers, extended coffee and or lunch breaks.
Here are some of the causes of procrastination:
Sometimes we’re afraid that we’ll fail. Sometimes we’re subconsciously afraid we’ll succeed too and then we’d have to deal with all the disruption (growth) and change that follows success. And other times it’s our fear of rejection or simply our fear of looking like a fool.
The task may actually be too daunting for our current skill level. When the task seems far too complex, we may try to avoid it altogether rather than own up to the skill gap or gain support.
Lack of buy in
When you or your team can’t see what the bigger picture is, questions may arise relating to the relevancy or point of some tasks.
Tiredness or fatigue
If sleep quality is being impacted, then the ability to stay focused at work will undoubtedly be impacted too.
Delaying the completion of tasks because “good” just won’t do and anything that is less than perfect is unacceptable.
“Procrastination is best put off for another time”. Gerald Vaughan
If you think you or one of your team may be a procrastinator, then try these top tips:
Make a to-do list
To help keep you on track, consider placing a due date next to each item.
Follow the 4D model
Focusing on what you can Do, Delegate, Delete or Defer (click here to download a simple how to model).
Take baby steps
Break down the items on your list into small, manageable steps so that your tasks don’t seem so overwhelming.
Set a timer
Work for 45 mins with single pointed focus. After this time get up, move around and grab a drink.
Turn off notifications and any sources of distraction.
When you finish an item on your to-do list on time, congratulate yourself and reward yourself by indulging in something you find fun.
Breakdown complex tasks
Take that complex task and break it down to its bare essential components and then tackle each one of those components one at a time.
If your team seem to be lacking motivation for tasks, remind them of the bigger picture and why their input is so important to the bigger picture or end goal.
Avoid self-criticism by focusing on positive self-talk. This helps to regulate emotions, switch from stress to calm and to also see the bigger picture (the opposite to tunnel vision).