Unfortunately, we all do it. No matter how hard you try or what you do to try and prevent it from happening, it inevitably will happen somewhere and with something. That ugly P word—Procrastination. Even the best organizers and the top managers have some things that they procrastinate. But, how can you help team members stay on task and avoid procrastination?
First, it’s important to understand some of the reasons why people procrastinate in the first place. According to business coach, David Giuliano, of Without Boundaries Coaching from Los Angeles, California, there are all kinds of reasons that people procrastinate on tasks. Here are just a few of the reasons that Giuliano identified as a causes for procrastination.
- Disinterest in the Task Itself. One of the major reasons that people procrastinate on certain tasks has to do with their level of interest in the task itself. Have you ever looked at the things you tend to put off the most? Are they tasks that excite you or that you somehow get energy doing? I think about myself personally and I notice that at the office, my stack of items that need to be filed away is the last thing on my to do list and typically the one thing that starts to pile up before it gets too overwhelming and I figure I better do it before it topples over. At home, I notice that I won’t hesitate to do my dishes and clean up my apartment, but that my laundry tends to build up until I figure I better get it done before the hamper overflows or I run out of clothes to wear. For someone else, their dishes may pile up because it is absolutely the most boring, de-energizing and unfulfilling task to them.
- Lack of Excitement in Your Life. Giuliano asked me about my history with procrastination. I told him that it’s something that I feel like has always been a part of my life since high school and college. I recall many long nights and all-nighters, particularly in college, where I was up writing papers and reports. I produced some of the greatest work, but I often times was left wondering why I waited until the last minute to do it. Of course, that left no time to re-read my 40-page report. I may have gotten a good grade on my paper, but I’m sure that there were some grammatical errors that could have been corrected and my paper perfected had I allowed the time to do so. Even now, I have blog assignments and I find myself waking up early the days that they are due to get them done. I can’t seem to find the motivation and desire to do them the night before. I usually outline my blogs and plan ahead for them the night before, but something about getting up early and my fingers typing away at the keyboard in the morning energizes me. Giualiano has asked for me to identify if there’s some kind of excitement or thrill that this type of procrastination may be bringing me, where I may be lacking elsewhere in my life.
- Pure Disorganization. Then there’s procrastination that occurs when there’s just pure disorganization in one’s life—whether it be their professional or personal life, which seemingly bleeds together at some point. The person that doesn’t know where anything is, doesn’t know where to start and just thinking about all of the things that you had to do was overwhelming, so instead of tackling on things one at a time and it smaller chunks, nothing gets done because there’s no motivation to deal with what feels like an overwhelming mountain to climb.
There may be plenty of other reasons that people may procrastinate. Some may be valid reasons, such as not enough resources to complete a task, such as financial or time constraints. However, there are plenty of tasks that don’t have the kind of constraints that make them impossible that still go either uncompleted or done with urgency and haste because of procrastination.
Why do you procrastinate? Or, is that a question you will answer later? Whether you answer it now or later, the best way for combating procrastination among employees and team members is to learn a bit about how your employees work. Find out what tasks excite them and what are disinterring to them. A basic everyday conversation with team members and what things they do in their spare time and what kinds of hobbies they have can be dead giveaways as to the kind of tasks energize them.
When speaking with David Giuliano, I learned that it was tasks that involved social interaction and dealing with people that excited me the most. I was drawn to these tasks and even welcomed interruptions if it involved socializing with people. Giuliano and my boss have now worked together to transition my job position to now involve customer service, initiating joint ventures, managing accounts and marketing with social media. Find out what makes your team members tick and you will, in turn, be able to find out ways to help keep team members on task, less likely to procrastinate and, chances are, happier!
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