We recently started to pick apart the concept of procrastination as a means of understanding it better, and potentially, getting better at not doing it. Last time, we touched on a few ways that procrastination can potentially manifest, so it only made sense to us that we would continue pulling that thread and try to help you identify how you tend to procrastinate more specifically.
With that, let’s get to it…no procrastinating here!
Procrastination Looks Different from Person to Person
Just as there is more than one way to skin a cat, there’s more than one way that people can put off doing things…which means that there are also different ways for different people to put a stop to their habits. What follows are some of the main ways that procrastination presents itself, and how you might make a small change to procrastinate less.
1) “It Has to Be Just… Right…”
Let me ask you something…are you the type of person whose shoelaces have to be the exact same length on either side? Do people compliment your eye for detail? Are you the type to sweat the small stuff?
If so, it might be your means of procrastinating.
Perfectionism can often be the reason people will get stuck in a process, or even avoid starting it in the first place. Like most of the examples we’ll go over here, it’s a deceptively simple thought process. After all, if “perfection” is the only acceptable outcome, there can never be a successful outcome. Therefore, perfectionism can be twisted into a means of postponing a task indefinitely to protect the procrastinator.
One way to help break down and avoid this form of procrastination is to specifically eliminate any extraneous tasks or details that aren’t conducive to your goal and are therefore out of your focus. Essentially, know your specific task, and prune away anything that may distract you from it.
2) “I Love This Plan…But, Can I Make It Better?”
If you often find yourself thinking through your entire process over and over, refining it and polishing it to make it better—but never actually taking action—your planning might be better identified as procrastination.
Much like perfectionism, the urge to endlessly tweak and optimize your processes can provide an excuse to never actually start using them. Why do something one way if there’s a better way to do it? This desire for improvement therefore becomes a convenient excuse to never actually finish a task, electing instead to endlessly try to improve it…in theory, at least.
To help reduce this kind of procrastination, it helps to utilize something known as SMART goals—goals that are designed to be Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Timely. By designing these goals, you’re able to commit to doing a task and shifting any process refinement to after the task is done, taking notes during the process and reflecting upon—not predicting—ways to improve.
3) “EVERYTHING is a Priority.”
When you have assorted tasks to take care of, how do you go about determining what to do first? If you can’t decide and therefore jump around from task to task and potentially neglect those you see as unimportant, you may be subject to this form of procrastination. Keeping yourself occupied with busy work is a tricky way to procrastinate, simply because it can easily look like productivity from the outside.
The inability to effectively prioritize tasks is therefore a shortcoming that you will want to address in your business before everyone is involved in workplace theater. To do so, examine your tasks and try to determine which of them will ultimately produce the most good for your business in terms of its objectives and goals, and which of them need to be accomplished most expeditiously.
Tasks that are both important and urgent should be the ones prioritized first, as they are the ones that have the most potential to be beneficial to your business and its operations.
4) “I Work Best Under Pressure.”
Perhaps the most obviously recognizable form of procrastination, we’ve all seen those people who put off a task until the last minute, citing that the deadline helps them produce their best work. This ultimately puts undue stress on the business as a whole, making things more difficult for both the procrastinator and the organization.
This kind of procrastination ultimately undoes its own justification, as it leaves no time after the fact to review and improve upon your work product. This makes it all the more important to fight this impulse. One way to do so is to subdivide your tasks and work on them on a more piecemeal basis, allowing you to fully commit in small bursts and repeat the process until the task is completed.
Shifting your perspective from getting it all done at once to spreading your productivity out into a more manageable timeframe is a good way to reverse course on these habits.
5) “This Seems Too Hard.”
Finally, the most risk-averse form of procrastination is the kind where people are trying to avoid criticism or judgment, and therefore they try to put off tasks that they aren’t confident in their ability to complete. These kinds of procrastinators are the kind who will fill their days with busy work to try and avoid these tasks.
As a result, this form of procrastination is a massive time sink and energy drain if not addressed appropriately. An effective means of doing so is to—again—subdivide your tasks into more manageable and approachable chunks. By doing so, you are able to more effectively complete your goals and overcome how intimidating any given task may be.
A simpler task (even if it only seems simpler) is just going to seem more approachable, and will therefore be less likely to tempt you into putting it off.
Hopefully, This Helps You Contextualize Your Own Procrastination Habits
Make sure you check back soon, as we’ll be addressing how you can more specifically deal with procrastination in both the short and long term. In the meantime, don’t hesitate to reach out to us for our help in keeping your team productive with the IT services and solutions that meet your business’ needs. Give us a call at (646) 741-1166!