BUSINESS MANAGEMENT - PROCRASTINATION

This is the 28th of a series of newsletters published on Business Management and Management Skills. Not all topics will apply to your business, but each section will be beneficial to establish company goals and objectives. By reading and studying these newsletter articles, you’re taking the first step in achieving your goals.

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Procrastinate - The definition of the word procrastinate is to put off doing until a future time, to postpone habitually, or to delay needlessly.

Preventing Procrastination - The following reasons for procrastination will no longer be a problem if you identify them and deal directly with them realistically:

Perfectionism - Some people have impossibly high standards. In this situation, we’re all likely to put off what we fear cannot be accomplished. Therefore, think performance, not absolute perfection. Set manageable, concrete incremental goals to be accomplished at specified times.

Large Overwhelming Tasks - When what you are doing seems so large and complex you don't know where to start, procrastination often results. In a situation like this, break the work into manageable units that will take you no more than ten to thirty minutes each. Take one small step at a time. Build upon success.

Unpleasant Tasks - If you hate doing something, you're likely to put off addressing it. When possible, delegate or hire someone to do the tasks that are most hateful to you. If you must do them yourself, think about how good you'll feel when the task you've been avoiding is done. Also, use the tactic of doing unpleasant tasks first to get them out of the way and free the rest of your day to pursue more pleasant tasks. You may also decide that you are NOT going to do something.

Creating Pressure to Perform - Some people motivate themselves by creating the pressure of a crisis atmosphere. They procrastinate until the last minute and then dramatically complete the work. Since this strategy actually helps them get the work done, they're often confirmed procrastinators. The emotional expense, however, is great and detracts from the kind of consistent, concentrated effort a successful business needs. So instead, motivate yourself by working at a reasonable pace to finish one step at a time rather than working yourself into a panic to do it all in one last-ditch effort.

Sometimes procrastination is a warning signal, a way to tell you that this is not the right thing to do or that it is a waste of time and doesn't need doing. When, for whatever reason, you find that you continue to avoid important tasks, identify what you’re doing instead, and cut off your escape routes. If you chronically procrastinate and find you can't cut off the escape routes, ask yourself the following questions:

Under what circumstances would you be motivated to do what needs to be done?
Listen carefully to your answer. Don't try to modify it. Think about what's stopping you from going on with what you need to do. If you’re honest with yourself, you may recognize that you’re not willing to work as long or hard as it takes to get the job done. You may not have scheduled enough free time for yourself. You may not be willing to do some of the tasks your work entails. In any case, now you have to face the truth because you are the boss. If you’re unable to solve your own problems, to manage yourself, what will your future hold?

Do you enjoy your work? If the honest answer is "no," it's no wonder you’re having difficulty getting yourself to do the tasks involved. If you really don't like your work, seriously consider finding different work.

The Dangers of Overworking:

Do your spouse, children or friends complain that you need to spend more time with them? Do they feel that they are last on the list for your time?

Do you have many business associates, but few friends?

Do you work even in nonworking situations?

Do you work at your play? Is all your recreation as much work as being on the job because you play to win every point, improve your every previous performance, and refuse to take losing lightly?

Do you feel uncomfortable if you are in a situation where you can't be productive, growing nervous as you wait for things even so minor as a red light to change in traffic?

Do you think of nongoal-related fun as frivolous?

Do you let the clock run your life?

Do you take everything so seriously that you miss or resent humorous comments in a work situation?

One last word of advice, protect your free time. Everyone needs to take time for relaxation and having fun. Engage in hobbies or other pursuits that you enjoy. Don't become a workaholic.

Mike Holt’s Comment: I would like to extend a special thank you to L.W. Brittian, a Mechanical & Electrical Instructor in Lott, Texas, for reviewing and editing the various articles in these newsletters. His comments and suggestions have been invaluable in the preparation of my Business Management and Management Skills’ Workbook. This newsletter article was extracted from that workbook. Watch for our next newsletter, and as always, we invite your comments and feedback. Send us your real-life experiences. We value your opinions and participation. Please respond to bjparks@atlantic.net. And… be sure to visit Mike Holt’s Website at http://www.mikeholt.com

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