How many times did you delay something that you must do? Justifying it by saying “I’ll do it tomorrow?” Or, “I’ll do it when I’m in a better mood or “I’ll do it as soon as I have more information”? I’m sure that all of us has done this sometimes during our life, mostly more often than we will admit to. After all, this bad habit of us – delaying the inevitable – is called procrastination.
Indeed, entrepreneur Jack Canfield recently described some of the roadblocks that lead to procrastination, also how you can find the motivation to overcome these time management hurdles.
Canfield suggested that the largest roadblocks to our success is often ourselves. Even more, “It can be too easy to use convenient excuses that the project in front of us is insurmountable” concluded Canfield.
But more importantly, for business owners and entrepreneurs, is the way that procrastination affects the performance their businesses.
The theory behind procrastination
What is procrastination?
Procrastination is the lack or absence of self-regulated performance and the behavioral tendency to postpone what is necessary to reach a goal 1. More formally: It is a complex process that involves effective, cognitive, and behavioral components. Even more, procrastination is a prevalent phenomenon in the general population, chronically affecting a substantial portion of adults and students 1.
So how does procrastination affect the success or failure of your business? If you (or your team) suffer from it, it may lead to self-handicapping behavior – resulting in wasted time, poor performance, and increased stress.
The thing with running a business is that there need things to be done, usually with a definite deadline. In fact, there’s an opportunity cost for every action you take.
Why are we procrastinating?
- If you’re depressed. When people are depressed, they often lose interest in activities they normally enjoy. This can lead to procrastination about even fun activities (Alice Boyes Ph.D. in Psychology Today);
- You’re overwhelmed. Procrastination may be an indicator that you are overwhelmed.
- Maybe you’re a perfectionist. Being a perfectionist can be a great excuse to procrastinate. You’ll delay the start of a project if you’re not sure that you can complete it perfectly.
- You’re scared. The anticipation of beginning a project may cause you to postpone the start thereof. Or, maybe you’re scared of starting because you fear the project may fail!
- Lack of accountability. Having an element of accountability helps to make sure you actually complete those important-yet-boring-or-difficult-tasks — because you know you’re going to have to report back (Emma Norris in Ladders).
- Distraction. Procrastination doesn’t only happen before we start doing a task. Indeed, it many times happens while we’re already busy with it. After all, we can use any distraction such as an incoming Whats App message, as an excuse to stop working on our project.
What can we do to control our procrastination problem?
Like with any addiction problem, the first step is always to recognize and accept that you have a problem 2.
Here are some steps to cure your procrastination problem:
- Break the task down in smaller steps, use a timeline, and create a to do list.
- Keep the tasks small, and take a break after 25 minutes.
- Set the bar low – make your task doable.
- Give yourself a reward for completing the task.
- Create ‘artificial’ deadlines to decrease delays.
- Avoid distractions such as TV or digital appliances.
- You need to understand your personality type.
The best method to lessen the affect of procrastination on your business is to have a proper business plan with a vision, mission and value statement. Furthermore, should it have well defined goals and strategies to obtain them. Everyone in the business should know what their roles are, what they must do and when it must be done.
Measure the performance of your team and reward those who had exceed your expectations. By the same measure, should you discourage mediocrity (as a result of procrastination) and your team members that are not performing, must be acted against.
The ONLY way to stop procrastinating | Mel Robbins
1 Chun Chu, A.H. and Choi, J.N. 2005. Rethinking procrastination: Positive effects of” active” procrastination behavior on attitudes and performance, The Journal of Social Psychology, 145(3):245-264.
2 Sullivan, Warren R. 2014. Procrastination, Triple Your Productivity and Accomplish Your Goals, Published by Gamma Mouse, a dba of Xilytics, LLC.