When procrastination turns your entire life into a nightmare!

Procrastination is:

‘The act or habit of putting off or delaying something requiring immediate attention’

 We all put things off that we don’t like doing. The problem is that the longer we put things off, the harder and/or more stressful they become when we finally have to get around to facing things.

I’m going to share a real situation I was involved with (as a coach to the manager).

This manager hated doing 1:1’s with his people and NEVER did any form of review with them. The problem was that the performance of one of his team was so poor, that the employee simply had to go.  Unfortunately, he had done NO 1:1’s ever; had never established what good performance actually was (he assumed the person knew); hadn’t documented any conversations with the person because technically he had never HAD any conversation. He had basically just let the poor performance continue for several years until the situation became untenable.

If this manager now decided to head into the warning process, he was (quite rightly) heading for this employee to take a personal grievance. So finally, after years and years of inaction, the manager had to start his 1:1’s with this person from scratch. A process which, if he handled correctly, could in fact turn the employee around, given that no-one had ever told him what good performance was.

I recently read 6 reasons that people procrastinate:

  1. They don’t know HOW to do what they are faced with doing
  2. The ‘stuff’ is boring so they can’t be bothered doing it
  3. They don’t ‘feel’ like doing it
  4. They fear ‘failure’ at doing it badly (or is it that they ‘feel’ like a failure?)
  5. They fear that if they do it and do it well they may have to do it even better next time (fear of success)
  6. An ‘attitude’ problem i.e. ‘He ‘should’ know – I shouldn’t have to spell in out for him.

In the case of the owner, I would suggest points 1; 3 and 6 come into play. He isn’t quite sure HOW to have a poor performance discussion, and fears doing it badly.

But NOT doing it isn’t a solution.

It certainly seems that the biggest reason we ALL procrastinate is when the thing we have to do is unpleasant. So if right now you are putting off something you KNOW you need to tackle (telling your kids that they will get no more pocket money until they do their chores around the house) for example.

  1. Start easy (with this manager he has to sit with this employee to explain the problem  improved)
  2. Start anywhere (the owner could have teamed him up with a great performer so the employee had on-the-job coaching)
  3. Beware of your own sad excuses:

 ‘I’m not in the mood”

‘I work best under pressure’

“I’ll do it tomorrow’

‘I’ve still got stacks of time’

‘I’m not feeling well’

‘I’m waiting for the right moment’

  1. Up the value of the goal – if I do this then (pain or pleasure – work out which works best for you). If you lean towards pleasure reward yourself with something small for completing the task – if it is pain you fear, then think about the cost of NOT dealing with whatever it is you are avoiding
  2. Procrastination personality – apparently the bad news is that you can’t change your personality – the good news is that you can change your environment.

I’d also like to add here – GET A COACH – someone who keeps you accountable! And I just have to leave you with a few quotes:

”The trouble is that you think you have time.” Jack Kornfield

“Nothing is so fatiguing as the eternal hanging on of an uncompleted task.” William James

“Procrastination is the bad habit of putting of until the day after tomorrow what should have been done the day before yesterday.” Napoleon Hill

So there it is – think about the things you are putting off; deal with them and then reward yourself.

Ann Andrews CSP – Speaker, Author, Profiler, Life Member NSANZ

Author: Lessons in leadership: 50 ways to avoid falling into the ‘Trump’ trap

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *