Procrastination is the habit of putting off until the day after tomorrow what should have been done the day before yesterday – Napoleon Hill. Procrastination is a common human occurrence involving delay in your daily duties at work or putting off relevant tasks such as submission of reports, or attending a meeting.
Is procrastination a good thing? Why do people procrastinate in the workplace? Due to its hindering effect on one’s productivity, procrastination is naturally perceived as a negative human behaviour. On the other hand, it can be measured as a wise response to certain demands that may necessitate waiting for up-to-the-minute information to arrive. Nearly everyone struggles with procrastination at one point or the other and it can become a very difficult problem to deal with.
Solvingprocrastination states that, procrastination generally occurs as a result of a person’s inability to self-regulate their behaviour, and is therefore associated with the concept of ‘akrasia’, which is a state of mind where someone acts against their better judgement, due to a lack of sufficient self–control.
Accordingly, procrastination is generally unintentional and irrational, meaning that people procrastinate even when they realise that doing so is bad for them, and even when they want to stop. From a psychological perspective, the main driving force behind procrastination is the prioritisation of short–term mood repair and emotion regulation over long–term achievement and wellbeing.
Essentially, this means that when procrastinators are averse to a task for some reason, such as because they are anxious or because they find it boring, they postpone it, in order to avoid suffering from negative emotions in the present.
They do this despite the fact that delay will prevent them from achieving their goals, and despite the fact that it could cause them to experience more negative emotions in the long-term, which is especially likely in cases where people feel guilty about their procrastination.
Similarly, when a person feels that they do not fit in well at the organisation where they work, due to a mismatch in terms of their skills, abilities, needs, or values, they also become much more likely to procrastinate, compared to when they feel that they fit in. Procrastination is a detrimental and widespread observable fact that causes us to engage in unnecessary delays as leaders and employees.
Forbes has reported that 89 percent of people admit to wasting time at work – and 69 percent of people admit to waste one hour or more per day. Over the course of the year, this time quickly adds up. Whether your team is distracted with personal issues or struggling to get started on a big project, helping them beat procrastination is an essential step to building a productive and profitable business. While the classic advise of minimising distractions and improving self discipline is smart, it is not enough to combat procrastination at scale.
Today, strategically investing in the right technology can help companies get their employees laser focused and eliminate some of the most common causes of procrastination in the workplace. While these solutions may require some up–front investment, over the long term they yield a critical ROI in terms of employee hours saved and help prevent money spent on non–productive hours.
A short pencil is better than a long memory. This is a factual saying that must be applied religiously when you really want to deal with procrastination. When you pen down clearly-defined vision and goals, your insight into the peculiarity of your procrastination problem, and your ideal procedure for dealing with it, it becomes a constant reminder for you to work on.
This is better than keeping all the information in your mind, which can be flooded with other things that will make you forget or distract you from focusing on it. Written information will improve your ability to analyse the situation and keep track on things on a daily basis while also increasing your commitment to your course that will pay off in the end although it takes a bit more work, than when it is kept in your head.
Most researches show that people often procrastinate for fear of failure. As a leader however, you should not be afraid to fail as it is a necessary part of your journey. The truth is that no one is perfect and as I keep enlightening people whenever I get the opportunity, perfection does not sell, realness does. Anyone who has heard my story knows that I have failed multiple times but I have learnt important lessons from each which I now use to help others on their journey.
As written in one of my articles, failure is not final. You do not start from scratch when you fail; you start from the experience you got from the failure to avoid pitfalls that were unknown to you. Every great leader, man or woman has gone through failure and used the lessons learnt to work towards their current status where you see and admire. You have whatever it takes to succeed in whichever area, so far as you put your mind to it and focus on the outcome you envision.
Instead of waiting for the right timing before making your move, take charge of the moment you have and make it work for you. It is better to attempt, go through the process even though you fear and receive the results you dreamed of, than thinking about the “what ifs” that may never exist and end up doing nothing; you waste precious time which could have been very productive for your team and the organisation as a whole.
The reality about procrastination is that it makes you feel worse when your deadline is up and you have not been able to meet your target. So what started as a temporal pleasure when you were chatting or getting distracted on the internet turns sour when the reality hits. Supervisors and managers who are procrastinators tend to cause their team to delay in the execution of their duties as they find it difficult to take decisions for their team to know the direction in which they are headed and this leads to low productivity in the workplace.
There is an argument that some people work better under pressure. This may be true to an extent but work done under pressure usually affects the quality of work, leads to mental fatigue, emotional imbalance and may lead to stress as well. Placing workers in areas where they are not confident about is one of the major factors that usually lead to procrastination.
Employees must also learn on their own about the field in which they are placed at the workplace to be able to gain the courage to initiate the achievement of goals even if it is their first time. Leaders have the responsibility of studying their team members to learn about their strengths and weaknesses and assigning them to areas where they are strong for high yielding productivity in their organisations.
Here are four tips to help you overcome procrastination:
- LAY DOWN CLEAR GOALS
Clearly defined visions and goals are easier to pursue than unclear ones. Leaders must therefore figure out and write down what they want to accomplish in an understandable detail that will help employees, coworkers, juniors and every worker in whichever level to be able to work towards it. When workers catch on with the vision and goals of the organisation, it becomes easy for them to tailor their plans to the vision and goals for the organisation for its productivity.
- ASSESS YOUR PROCRASTINATION PROBLEM
With your vision and goals clearly defined, you need to examine the nature of your procrastination problem. This means you have to check the way you act, and once you figure out when and how you procrastinate, you need to analyse your behaviour in order to determine why you do it. Why do you waste hours being distracted on the internet instead of getting things done? Is it because you are anxious or fearful of the outcome of your decision?
- CREATE A PLAN OF ACTION
The next step after the assessment of the nature of your procrastination problem is to create a plan of action, and figure out which techniques you can use in order to stop yourself from procrastinating. Some anti–procrastination techniques that you can use in order to accomplish this are:
- Set self–imposed deadlines for completing tasks.
- Establish a consistent work routine.
- Break large goals into small, actionable tasks.
- Tailor your schedule to your daily productivity cycles.
- HAVE A CONSISTENT FOCUS
What you focus on grows. Your attention is a powerful force and should be charted towards currents of success and growth. Do not sabotage yourself by entertaining fear because that is what actually pulls you down. Shake off your self-doubt and give yourself the chance to grow into your full potential by dropping all the worry, self–comparison, procrastination and all the negativity. They are not serving you and you know it.
Every day that you spend procrastinating is another day you spend worrying about that thing. Do not put it off, do it now, and move on with your life!
Are you ready for TRANSFORMATION?
Dzigbordi K. Dosoo: The H.E.L.P. Coach
Dzigbordi K. Dosoo is a Soft Skills Expert, Personal Impact, Professional Growth and Influence Expert specializing in Humanness, Entrepreneurship, Leadership and Power – H.E.L.P.
A career spanning over two decades, she has established herself as a Certified High Performance Coach, Speaker, Author, Wellness Expert and award-winning Entrepreneur with a clientele ranging from C-Suite Executives, Senior Management, Practitioners and Sales Leaders spanning 3 continents.
She is the Soft Skills Expert and Founder of Dzigbordi K. Dosoo (DKD) Holdings; a premier lifestyle business group with brand subsidiaries that include Dzigbordi Consulting Group& Allure Africa.
Dzigbordi has been featured on CNN for her entrepreneurial expertise. She is one of the most decorated female entrepreneurs in Ghana having being named “CIMG Marketing Woman of the Year” in 2009; “Top 10 most respected CEOs in Ghana, 2012; Global Heart of Leadership Award and, Women Rising “100 Most Influential Ghanaian Women”, 2017.
She can be reached on [email protected] and @dzigbordikwaku across all social media platforms.