Procrastination - What harm can it really do? Let's find out...
By Rebecca Allam
Throughout August, The Business Clinic have been raising the issue of procrastination. It is often joked about and put across in a harmless and jovial way as we all do it, whether it be putting off tidying up for another day, de-weeding the garden or putting up a picture frame. And for the most part, we feel it doesn't actually affect our lives in the long run. And you would be right to think that of these little things, but it's when it starts to creep into our business lives that's where it can really do us some damage.
Putting off a business task can quite often mean putting a pin in prospective opportunities and without meaning to, or realising the impact, we are stopping ourselves from growing and therefore moving forwards.Here are some more reason's why you should think twice about procrastinating:
Don't take the easy way out!
Everyone puts things off! Probably even the Queen and Beyoncé.
The reason we do this is often we feel like there is something more important to focus on and instead of stepping up our game and getting on with it, we tend to look to the smaller, less significant tasks to fill up our time, and in doing so feel a sense of achievement that we are getting things done. Whilst we leave the bigger issues to build up and the less attention we pay to them, the bigger they grow and the uglier they get in our mind. What may appear to be the easy way is the thing keeping us up at night. In short, just do it. It'll cause you far less pain in the long run. In fact, whatever you're putting off when you actually start doing it, I bet it's easier than you thought.
Think about your future...
Remind yourself every day that every task can make a difference to your future timeline. It may seem a bit dramatic but it's the butterfly effect baby! This is how life works. Do you want to let yourself be the reason you haven't achieved your dreams? Do everything in your power to push forwards and make the things you want, happen.
Don't let it affect your health.
It would seem that scientists have discovered a link between procrastination and hypertension and cardiovascular disease. The study did not manage to prove any causality, but researchers hypothesised that those who practise regular procrastination, punish themselves over projects left unfinished and this results in feeling like they have a lack of control in their lives.
Are you doing the best you can?
No matter how skilled or talented you are, we all know that throwing something together in the nth hour will never be your best work and don't your customers deserve the best? After all, that's what they are paying you for. It may be tempting to think you have more than enough time to, but wouldn't it be nice to have time to finish whatever you have to do in advance and have the time to review and perfect it so that you can turn in work you can be proud of?
It's not fun...
When we allow ourselves to procrastinate, we are giving ourselves short-term gratification and not thinking about what's actually best for our future selves long term. This leaves us less time to spend doing the things we love and with the people we love. We end up wasting the precious time we have doing things we don't even really need to do when all that we really need to do is complete the task at hand so we can move on to enjoy life to the fullest.
So, here are some anti-procrastination tools to get you started and hopefully change your mind-set...
- Forgive yourself. Studies have shown that self-forgiveness will help you feel positive about yourself and reduce the likelihood of future procrastination.
- Commit yourself (to the task, not an institution). Focus on getting things done rather than avoiding. Write down what exactly you need to do and attach a time and even location for doing them. This should help you to be more proactive in the tasks you undertake.
- Promise yourself a reward. It works for canines, why not for us? Write down a list of rewards on a whiteboard so they are in sight and with each difficult task that you could potentially procrastinate with, assign one of your rewards for completing it.
- Peer pressure works! Or rather in this instance 'Peerworking' works!
Tell people about the task, ask them to check in with you! A good slice of accountability is procrastination's worst enemy! If you don't have anyone to ask, bring it to a 'Peerworking' session, we will happily help you in a way that doesn't feel like pressure.
- Follow the 1 Touch Rule! Tackle each task as it comes, don't let them build up. Having a stack of tasks leftover from the previous day can lead to a negative mind-set and that's when we can find procrastination seizes the opportunity to creep in on us.
- Flip your thinking! The phrases "need to" and "have to", give the impression that you are without choice in the matter. This can make you feel disempowered and result in self-sabotage. Swap them for phrases like, "I choose to", giving you ownership over that project and take control of your workload
- "Eat that frog!" This famous phrase is famous for a reason! It's to the point. It works! First thing, every day, eat your frog... aka the tasks you hate most. You will feel like you have really achieved something giving you a positive mind-set for the rest of the day and the time to freely, and without pressure, get your other things done that you find more enjoyable.
We hope this article has shed some light on why procrastination can be fatal and how to overcome it.