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Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Procrastination


By definition, procrastination refers to the act of replacing high-priority actions with lower- priority items. It is a prescription for stress and will eventually lead to lost productivity and possible termination of employment.  We all procrastinate to some extent but it can become a major problem when it slows down performance. As I was resourcing materials for this blog, I found many different classifications of procrastination.  The reasons that we delay and postpone action are primarily due to the three following factors: 

Skill Sets ~ Lack of knowledge on how to perform a particular task.

Time Management ~ Getting over-loaded with trying to do too many things.  Everything tends to be a priority.

Emotional Issues ~ This category is the “catch-all grouping” and has many components such as Fear of Failure, Seeking Perfection, Insubordination, Passive-Aggressive Behaviors.

Recognize that procrastination can be conquered.  We need to first realize that it is a habit. Things become a habit when repetition occurs. In general, it takes 66 days to form a habit.  Ideally over our careers the habits we form are good ones.  Procrastination is not something to be proud of. There are a lot of people affected when we do not follow through on expectations. In most cases, it starts off with little things and as we avoid doing them, they become major obstacles to our productivity. The ability to better understand the three WHY’s listed above the more successful we will be with those issues. As mentioned previously, there are three main reasons that we drag our feet in getting things done:
·         Skill Sets ~ These can be developed by proper training and modeling.  An example in sales would be territory management.  The ability to siphon and filter a sales territory to use the metrics available to positively organize the territory.  There generally are either internal or external resources that can be used to strengthen skill sets.
o   If you are lacking external resources to help you break the project down into smaller steps that you can do.  Once you feel achievement the overall project won’t seem as overwhelming.

·         Time Management ~ We discussed in previous blogs how this can be strengthened and developed by prioritization of “must do” “should do” and “would like to do”.  A simple A, B, C classification can be of immense help and relieve anxiety. We need to recognize that we cannot possibly do everything!

·         Emotional Factors ~ This grouping is by far the largest category as it relates to WHY we postpone our actions. 
o   The fear of failure is perhaps the biggest reason that we delay doing something.  No one wants to fail but we cannot be successful without making some mistakes along the way.
o   Incredible as it may sound, the fear of success can also become a reason for putting things off.  When a supervisor sees that you are very good at a particular task, he may “push” you for more and ultimately “swamp” you with things. You are then overburdened and may lower your outputs accordingly.
o   Perfectionists want everything perfect and expect everything to be perfect.  They sometimes will not attempt to do something because they may be afraid of failure.
o   The “passive-aggressive” behaviors that can help contribute to procrastination are significant.  I have made a listing of several so that you will be more apt to recognize these often subtle retaliations:
§  Non-Communication when there is clearly something problematic to to complete and a lack of communication will aid in procrastination.  Other manifestations may including a “woe is me” attitude, sulking or feeling resentful.
§  Superiority Complex when you sense that one group will be see as better than the other group.
§  Blame, Disrespect, Insubordination, Disregard for policy


I hope that this discussion will help us to better recognize the ramifications of procrastination before it becomes a major obstacle to our success.  Always remember we will never accomplish everything that we want to if we try to do all the things asked of us.  Control those things that are within your control.  

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