Are you procrastinating? How would you know?
Are you procrastinating? Maybe! It’s not always obvious – and that’s the problem.
Christopher Parker once stated: Procrastination is like a credit card: it’s a lot of fun until you get the bill.’ I have to agree with that statement. But here’s the thing – are you procrastinating? How would you know? I would argue that we do know, most of the time! There are tell-tale signs. When you take a break to beat your colleague at table tennis in the office games room (if you’re lucky enough to have one), or to have a gossip at the water cooler, you know you’re procrastinating. But how about when it isn’t so obvious?
Staying in the comfort zone
We always like being in our comfort zones so when we need to make a sales call, and keep putting it off, that, my dear friends, is my definition of procrastination. Or how about when it’s coming to the end of the month, and you decide you need to catch up on your bookkeeping? You have a legitimate excuse – it needs to be done, right? But what if you should be following-up on a client or creating a marketing report right now? What if you would be better off taking the dog for a walk to think about strategy? What if you could do that expense report on Friday because you have more pressing things to do?
Procrastination is really about not doing what you should be doing right now!
So here’s the crux of the matter – most of us procrastinate a lot of the time by simply putting important ‘to do’s’ off, prioritizing our ‘to do’s’ in an order that does not make sense, and have those deadlines creep up on us until we execute them under pressure, and not to the best of our ability. This causes fatigue because we’re not stupid and the only person we’re fooling is ourselves. So when you go to amend that website page, or write some code for that app because you love writing code and you’re good at it and are wallowing deep within your comfort zone, here is what I suggest you do:
Ask yourselves 5 simple questions
1) Is this something I should be doing right now?
2) Could someone else be doing it for me?
3) Would the company be better off if I spent the same amount of time doing something else?
4) What else could I be delegating?
5) Can I reorganize my priorities so that they make more sense?
I guarantee that most of the time you will answer ‘yes’ to all five questions, until you become more aware of how you are spending your time.
Working on the business, not in the business
Too often we spend too much time in our businesses being ‘busy fools’, working long hours, not delegating, not being truly productive, forgetting why we started up our business in the first place. The more we work on the business, rather than in the business, the more chance we have of long-term success. Even if you’re a small business or solopreneur, you can still delegate by tapping into the ‘gig economy‘, using sites such as Fiverr and People Per Hour
Last bit of advice
Take a long hard look at how you are spending your time, and where and when you are putting off the more important stuff, by virtue of doing things that are in your comfort zone. I promise you that by asking yourself the questions above, and monitoring how you spend your time, it will pay dividends within a very short amount of time.
Lesley Anne Rubenstein-Pessok, MD of LAR Consultancy Ltd, has spent her whole career in executive roles, working with start-ups and SME businesses, helping them to become more efficient, increase turnover, improve profitability, cost effectiveness and create strategies that pay off. Her client testimonials say it all.