My most used saying is this: ‘Never let perfect get in the way of better’. A major cause of procrastination is the fear that you’re not going to do a perfect job. Does this ring a bell? Find out about the other reasons we procrastinate, and what to do about it.
There are a number of reasons why we procrastinate. If you’re motivated enough to lead your own business, you’re probably a high achiever and something of a perfectionist. But perfectionism is expensive, a double-edged sword that’s both a strength and a potential weakness. You might also be tempted to procrastinate when you’re working in complex, unfamiliar territory where you’re not as confident as usual. Or, you might postpone routine tasks that aren’t particularly stimulating. You might also put a task off because you’re tired and distracted. Do you recognise yourself here?
The good news is that you can understand and manage your own reasons for procrastination, share your learning with your team, and set yourself up to be better in business.
Overcoming Procrastination – The Benefits
If you address procrastination, your stress levels will drop immediately. Steady, step-by-step progress on tasks will give you a sense of achievement, and this will add to your confidence. You’ll bring these positive feelings to other tasks, and your team will notice and feel the lift too. Your productivity will rise. And profitability will follow.
Procrastination – The Dangers
Procrastination offers short-term relief, but it’s expensive in the long run. It’s psychologically tiring too because deep down you know you’re avoiding something that needs to be done, and guilt follows. Both productivity and profitability suffer in the struggle. And you risk missing opportunities that could have major consequences for your business.
- If you’re a perfectionist, learn to step back from the big picture and reserve judgement. Tell yourself this is a draft or a work-in-progress which can be tidied up later. The important thing is to make a start. If you’re too close to the job, talk to a colleague and get help in breaking it down into interim stages. Use your prioritisation skills to work out the actual importance of the task – regardless of its emotional impact – and schedule it in small chunks rather than a single block of time.
- Motivate yourself to complete a task you don’t particularly enjoy by scheduling it just before coffee time or lunch time and use that as a reward.
- If you’re putting off a task because you’re tired, make a point of scheduling it at a time when you know you’re likely to be feeling more alert. Or take yourself off to a quiet meeting room so that you can concentrate more easily.
- Break a daunting task into small steps and focus on one at a time. Or, see if a member of your team has experience or expertise in the area, and delegate all or part of the task to them.
So remember, never let perfect get in the way of better. Whereas few of us can achieve perfection, we can all achieve better.