Procrastination is as much a psychological barrier as it is a business challenge. If you are stalling at getting to your main project, it could be because of four reasons that can be overcome.
First, if you are fearful, you will delay confronting a task or problem. What if the bank doesn’t authorize my loan? What if the boss won’t grant my request for a raise?
You overcome fear by creating a Plan B. Ask for the loan. If you get turned down, find out why. Use this informational experience to teach you how to upgrade your application’s weaknesses, and then apply at other banks when you are in a stronger position.
If your boss says “no” to your raise request, find out why. If you are weak in certain areas, use the evaluation to improve your value to the company. However, if the company is in no position to increase your salary, realize you are in a dead end job and start looking elsewhere. Get over your fears by using any situation as an information gathering experience that will help you develop a Plan B.
Second, you will procrastinate if you have ethical issues with a circumstance. How can I develop an ad campaign for a product I know is inferior?
You overcome ethical issue procrastination by realizing you are in a double dilemma. If you force yourself to develop an ad campaign for something you don’t believe in, it will make you heartsick, and your work will be second rate. It’ll be a lose-lose situation. Speak up early and avoid getting yourself hemmed in. However, if you are forced to join the team, play devil’s advocate regularly about what is a lie, misleading, or unethical. You’ll be able to look at yourself in a mirror each morning and feel no shame.
Third, you will procrastinate if you think the project is overwhelming. How can I write a 375 page book?
You defeat feeling overwhelmed by changing your perspective on a task. Don’t face a 375 page book project. Instead, break big tasks into smaller units. Create a table of contents with 25 chapters. Say to yourself, “This week I’ll write a 15 page chapter.” That’s much more reasonable.
Fourth, you will procrastinate if you have a job to do that you just hate. It’s Saturday, but I don’t want to spend my day off organizing my business office.
You can confront hated jobs in two ways. For one thing, you can choose the lesser of two painful evils and spend money to hire someone else to do the job for you. Yes, there are professional office organizers who (for a price) will discard your outdated technology, arrange your filing systems, de-clutter your bookshelves, and rearrange your furniture to be ergonomically most effective. Check the Yellow Pages.
However, if you want to save the money by doing the work yourself, then break the hated job into shorter tasks and add an element of pleasure to the mission. One Saturday, just spend three hours going through one tall filing cabinet, pitching outdated contracts, old promotional brochures, unneeded resumes, and useless catalogs. Do it while listening to the football game on the radio. The next Saturday, do all of the bookcases in your office, discarding college textbooks, yellowed manuals, non-applicable company guidelines, and tattered paperbacks, while listening to another game. You can multi-task when a job has no serious mental challenge attached to it.
Facing procrastination is vital if you plan to succeed in business or in your personal affairs. Problems don’t just “go away,” and tasks don’t complete themselves. Thus, the time to beat procrastination is…now.
Dr. Dennis E. Hensley is the author of such best-selling business books as The Power of Positive Productivity (Possibility Press) and How to Motivate Yourself and Others (Warner Press). He directs the professional writing department at Taylor University, Upland, Indiana, where he holds the rank of full professor. As a consultant, his clients include Brotherhood Mutual Insurance Company, General Motors, North American Van Lines, and Wells Fargo Bank and Trust.
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