I'm trying to decide whether to procrastinate... or not!
Procrastination...do you do it? Are you guilty, or is it something your putting off???
The dictionary says procrastination is:
I want to champion the case FOR procrastination!
I think there are times that a bit "humming and hawing" is totally called for! If I need to cut wood - admittedly, not a regular activity of mine - I would definitely need to check, double-check, and maybe have a cuppa to think about it. Why? Because I've stuffed up simple things too many times and had to go back to the hardware shop and repurchase the materials. The simple, cheap DIY job costing more time and money than getting a tradie to do it!
Whilst that example may resonate, when we think of procrastination, we are thinking more along the lines of people putting off things that need to be done which then has an impact on drawing out the task beyond a reasonable timeframe.
In the workplace, the effects of procrastination can be significant. A team is dependent on everyone getting on with the job. If you avoid or 'shilly-shally' over a task that someone else is reliant on, not only may the team objectives be compromised, but you are at risk of derailing your career if you get known for not delivering to deadlines or at the last minute.
So why do we do it?
Well, I know for myself, it's usually because the task is boring, tedious or a priority for someone other than myself. And of course, fear!
Fear of getting it wrong
Fear of looking stupid
Fear of a wrong decision
Fear of choosing the wrong thing and cutting off better options
Charlotte Lieberman's article in the NY Times sums this up perfectly:
"Procrastination isn’t a unique character flaw or a mysterious curse on your ability to manage time, but a way of coping with challenging emotions and negative moods induced by certain tasks — boredom, anxiety, insecurity, frustration, resentment, self-doubt and beyond."
Absolutely - I use it as a motivator.
As the deadline gets closer and closer, the fear of letting others down or breaking my commitment will spur me into action. I'll work faster, stress less about perfection and just 'get it done'.
In addition to this, I actually get around to all sorts of other tasks I didn't know needed doing
"Gosh, that's a dirty window! How do we live with a draw this disorganised? This (waving hand over the draw) is not bringing me joy right now!!!"
Recently I took a Strengths Profile Assessment. This enabled me to look at my strengths, how I use them, and why I get so drained by certain activities - leading to procrastination!
For me 'Competition" was a Learned Behaviour, meaning whilst I might be good at it at times, it drains me. When I reflected on this, I realised how true it is. Scrolling through Facebook seeing what others do (promoting their businesses) doesn't inspire me to lift my game and advertise, vlog or get more active. Quite the opposite! I wonder why bother at all if you can't do it like them. I feel exhausted just seeing the effort by others. I have no desire to compete.
However, a Realised Strength I have is 'Explainer' - this I am both good at and energised by. So I will happily make a video to explain something. Along with "Enabler' I have to ensure I equip you with what you need to know so you can learn, achieve, grow...
So, now I have this insight I am using it to cull the draining things from my task list. I'm getting others to focus on 'those' things, so I can stay 'as far as is reasonably practicable' (love that phrase), in my energised zone where there is less procrastination resulting in more productivity!
Jo O’Donovan is the founder of Workplace Relationships, based in Melbourne. She works with companies to increase their productivity through focusing on their culture, people and relationships. Jo has a particular passion for improving the mental health of employees through developing the human connections within organisations and her new online course on Mental Health In The Workplace can be accessed here.
Are you a manager who needs to know how to have a mental health conversation? Access our manager course here
To find out more about Strengths Profile Assessments - click here