Raise your hand if you’ve ever caught yourself procrastinating – we’ve all been there! As managers, it’s easy to find ourselves juggling countless responsibilities, leaving some things lingering in the background. Typically, the tasks that get left behind are those we really would rather not deal with. How does that saying go? Put off for tomorrow what you can do today. Not quite:
“Don’t put off until tomorrow what you can do today.”Benjamin Franklin
These are wise words, but how do you kick procrastination to the curb when faced with a daunting task?
Sorting your Priorities
Welcome to the world of to-do lists – the lifeblood of every busy manager! From daily tasks to monthly objectives, these lists help us stay on track and keep chaos at bay. Some of us might be sticky note enthusiasts, plastering our workspace with colorful reminders. Ah, the satisfaction of ticking off completed tasks – it’s like a mini victory dance every time! But within this sense of accomplishment lies a hidden challenge – are we truly tackling the right priorities? Is it possible that a few of those difficult to tackle, high-priority items are left lingering?
Now, before we dive into the fascinating realm of procrastination, let’s lay a solid foundation. Take a moment to ensure you have a crystal-clear understanding of what truly matters and why. Here’s a handy article to guide you in sorting out your priorities effectively.
Alright, let’s assume you’ve got your priorities straight. Does that mean you’ll jump right into action immediately? Often, there’s a little internal debate that goes on; an argument about why something can wait. Who do you think will win that argument?
The Why Behind the Wait
Even the most efficient managers fall prey to procrastination. I had a strong work ethic and was attentive about completing things quickly. Nevertheless, there were times when I found myself deferring tasks that deserved immediate attention.
Sometimes, the culprit was the overwhelming nature of certain projects. The thought of diving into something colossal seemed daunting, leading me to believe that clearing smaller tasks first would pave the way. Yet, to my dismay, the small tasks multiplied faster than rabbits, leaving the important one untouched.
Fear also crept in from time to time, disguising itself as a valid reason for procrastination. Whether it was the fear of facing confrontation, the dread of failure, or the apprehension stemming from lack of knowledge, it succeeded in delaying critical actions. And herein lies the truth: procrastination isn’t a result of laziness or inefficiency; it’s a human response rooted in complex emotions.
Admit it, we’ve all had those “good?” reasons for not tackling something right away:
But here’s the catch – whenever we engage in these lively debates with ourselves about postponing tasks, it’s a clear indication that we should be taking action. Every moment of inaction carries consequences, and it’s essential to recognize this truth.
The Impact of Procrastinating
Procrastination is not merely a harmless delay; it has far-reaching effects on our well-being, productivity, team dynamics, and leadership reputation.
Let’s try a little experiment. Today, put off an important task and observe how your day unfolds and how you sleep at night. If you’re anything like me, you might feel as though you slept in a leaky tent during a downpour.
Now, let’s fast forward to tomorrow. Complete the task first thing in the morning and take note of how your day and night go. Spoiler alert: you’ll experience a profound sense of accomplishment, increased confidence, enhanced productivity, and better sleep. Plus, you’ll find yourself being kinder to your employees, spouse, kids, and pets.
When we procrastinate on vital tasks, they tend to accumulate like an ever-growing snowball. For example, if I avoid contacting an upset client because I’m unsure how to handle their issue (who enjoys confrontation, anyway?), I might delay making the call for a day or two. Consequently, I lose sleep, replaying the problem in my mind at 3:00 a.m. To add to the predicament, the next morning starts with a message from my boss, informing me the customer has lodged a formal complaint. Now, I’m dealing with an even angrier client and an upset boss. The result? I’m tired, stressed, and in a foul mood, likely to snap at the next employee seeking help. Congratulations, I’ve just created more work and additional problems.
Procrastination doesn’t only affect us individually; it has a significant impact on our teams as well. By delaying essential tasks, we become bottlenecks in processes, leaving our employees waiting for us to complete our part.
Among all procrastinated tasks, difficult conversations take home the prize. When we fail to address employee performance or behavioral issues, it rumbles throughout the entire team. Other team members might feel pressured to pick up the slack, leading to an uncomfortable and possibly unsafe work environment. As leaders, our role is to uplift and empower people, not hinder them by neglecting our responsibilities.
As managers and leaders, we are always under the watchful eyes of our team members. Procrastination sends a strong message about our expectations. If we want our employees to meet deadlines and perform at their best, we must lead by example. Our actions (or inactions) directly impact their confidence in us. So, let’s be the role models our teams look up to, encouraging a culture of prompt action and dedication.
Tips for Beating Procrastination
Ready to crush procrastination like a pro? Here are techniques to banish the habit for good:
👉🏾Stealth Mode: Avoid adding critical tasks to your big to-do list. Instead, schedule them as appointments in your calendar. This way, they receive the attention they deserve and are less likely to be pushed aside.
👉🏾The Value and Impact Mindset: For tasks you find difficult, think of value and impact. Shift your focus to the benefits of completing a task rather than dwelling on the discomfort. What will it look like when I complete this? What will it look like if I don’t? Remember your reasons for being a manager and use them as motivation to act swiftly.
👉🏾Turning Challenges into Triumphs: Confront tasks you dislike as challenges. Seek help from experts and colleagues when needed. Collaboration breeds success.
👉🏾One Step at a Time: For monster-sized tasks that seem daunting, just start! Taking that initial step triggers your brain into action mode, propelling you forward faster than you think.
👉🏾Seize the Morning: Tackle tough tasks in the morning when your mind is fresh and your day is yet to get chaotic. Overcome the challenge early, and the rest of the day will feel like a breeze.
👉🏾Break Down Large Tasks: If a task feels overwhelming, chop it into smaller, more manageable subtasks. Completing these subtasks will gradually lead you to conquer the larger task.
👉🏾Limit Perfectionism: Striving for excellence is commendable, but perfectionism can become a roadblock to progress. Aim for quality work without letting the pursuit of perfection delay your work.
👉🏾Master Your Internal Dialogue: Excuses, arguments, and rationalizations – we’ve all heard them. Choose to argue for action rather than inaction. Be the victor in the battle against procrastination.
👉🏾Reward Yourself: Establish a system of rewards for completing tasks or achieving milestones. Treat yourself to something enjoyable after finishing a challenging project to reinforce positive behavior.
The moment to conquer procrastination is now! By understanding our priorities, embracing our potential, and adopting effective strategies, we can bid a fond farewell to the lurking shadow of procrastination and usher in a new era of efficiency and achievement. Let the procrastination slaying begin!
Use the following questions as journal prompts. By writing in a journal you’ll gain valuable insights into your habits, patterns and motivations. With increased self-awareness, conquer procrastination and unlock personal growth and fulfillment.
Are there specific fears or insecurities that contribute to my procrastination, and what strategies can I employ to address and overcome these emotional barriers?
Do I prioritize tasks based on importance, or do I avoid certain high-priority items?
How do I handle tasks that feel overwhelming or challenging, and can I implement strategies to approach them more confidently?
What are the consequences of procrastination on my professional and personal life, and am I willing to take proactive steps to mitigate them?
How will I move forward?
Make a commitment to stop procrastinating. No, no, not later – now!
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