I have been wanting to write about procrastination for a while, just haven’t been able to finish it for one reason or another….
How exciting it is to be a part of an organisation or movement that is decisive and pursues its goals clearly? Decisions being made are thought through clearly and decisively in pursuit of the strategic goals. Engagement at all levels is high with motivation and energy levels through the roof. An Ecosystem of like-minded individuals motivated and acting as one. Challenges are thrown down and the team rises to meet them and to excel. Clients are happy, we are happy as Leaders and our People are happy. It is a place where you wake up motivated wanting to go to work and contribute to the success of the organisation.
The reverse is true when motivation and goal pursuit is low. The atmosphere is flat and people and leaders are not engaged at all. It takes such a long time to accomplish anything.This can have an adverse effect on the retention levels of key staff, impact your client satisfaction scores and ultimately hurt your profit margin. This is not a great place to work.
A part of the problem may lie in individual or organisational procrastination. Procrastination can freeze the decision-making process, can halt your strategy in its tracks. It can turn your best people into your worse performers.
You might also practice procrastination, it can be a very difficult place to be in and can seriously affect your work-life balance with stress related illness a real possibility.
Do not panic! There are FIVE Procrastination Busting Steps that you can tap into to improve your motivation and that you can share with your teams.
Understanding what drives Procrastination
Our people are not made from the same mold, each are driven by wants and needs. Generational concerns, cultural differences, we are also driven by factors in our goal pursuit thought processes. Goal pursuit thought processes and procrastination are linked.
To understand why procrastination exists, we need to first understand how people are driven when they are chasing their goals. There are two factors which are prominent in our thought processes which dictate how we all approach goal pursuits and in turn impacts our motivation. .
Once you understand these two factors, it will be easier to understand the strategies that you can adopt to reduce instances of procrastination and its impact.
The Two Factors that influence Goal-Pursuits and Motivation
These are the factors that influence people’s motivation and goal pursuits. Split into two groups, people achieve their goals and gain their motivation through these two main approaches called the Regulatory mode theory.
Regulatory mode theory, along with regulatory focus theory was developed by E. Tory Higgins and Arie Kruglanski who were interested in the development of goal-pursuit as well as motivation. The theory depicts two main approaches to situations using locomotion and assessment.
The regulatory mode theory depicts how people approach situations to achieve their goals. This theory is part of E. Tory Higgins research in motivation theories and goal pursuit theories. People can either use the Locomotion or the Assessment method for goal-pursuit. E. Tory Higgins states, “When people self-regulate they decide what they want that they don’t currently have. They then figure out what they need to do to get what they want, and then they do it.”
People who are geared towards the locomotion mode are focused on moving and getting things done, normally quickly. In contrast, those that are strong in assessment will compare different goals and analyze different options, often taking a long time to achieve their goals. These include organisational, project or team goals.
Locomotion and Assessment factors and Procrastination
Locomotion and assessment affect how people manage their time and their goal setting process.The study found that if you were prone to assessment mode, then you are positively related to procrastination and if you are favoring locomotion, then you are more likely to be negatively related to procrastination.
In laypersons terms, people who subscribe to the Assessment Method for achieving their goals can spend a large amount of time analysing and comparing a large amount of work. This can lead to them being more prone to procrastination. Locomotors are generally quicker to make decisions and act on them. Consequently, locomotion can be very efficient in maintaining attitude, creating intention, and facilitating behavior.
Analyzing and comparing a large amount of work is certainly not negative. Certainly this can have positive outcomes especially in areas where there is a large amount of risk.
But procrastinators gone bad, chronically avoid difficult tasks and deliberately look for distractions. Procrastination in large part reflects our perennial struggle with self-control as well as our inability to accurately predict how we’ll feel tomorrow, or the next day. “I don’t feel like it” takes precedence over goals; however, it then begets a downward spiral of negative emotions that deter future effort.
Facing the procrastinating front on and setting a clear and decisive Procrastination Action Plan (PAP) has a significantly positive impact on your team, your work tasks, your organisation and your health.
A Very Famous Procrastinator Indeed
Tenzin Gyatso is better known these days as the 14th Dalai Lama, a great spiritual leader who travels the world advocating for the Tibetan people and teaching about compassion as the source of happiness in life. But it was not always thus—Gyatso was once a bored student who found it hard to get motivated. “Only in the face of a difficult challenge or an urgent deadline would I study and work without laziness,” he recalls. He has learned his lesson since: “You must not procrastinate,” he now teaches. “Rather you should make preparations so that even if you die tonight, you would have no regrets.
Procrastination comes in many shapes and sizes. Whole organisations can lose momentum and their direction. A sales team may miss that opportunity for a vital win that will drive their pipeline for the next three years, an individual may miss out on the opportunity of a life time.
Procrastination Action Plan (PAP)
Procrastination comes from assessment method. We will focus on this today and for a tool that will help you or your team stop procrastinating.
- Don’t bite off more than you can chew – If you have large tasks, break them down into smaller tasks. This gets easier with practice and will become habit once you have successfully reduced big deliverables into bite sized chunks. Large tasks can overwhelm and negatively impact people, including the procrastinators among us. This is also true of large strategic projects that an organisation is rolling out. Chunk it down, reduce the possibility of organisation stalemate and motivational inaction.
- Line in the Sand – Set deadlines for the tasks. Make sure that they are still challenging, yet achievable. As each of the smaller tasks or projects are delivered,sense of achievement will add positiveness to the group and increase levels of motivation across the board.
- 80/20 Rule – Remember the 80/20 rule, perfectionism begets procrastination. Sometimes it is better to get something out of the door quickly. Are you are blogger, writing a draft and find yourself procrastinating over images to use in your latest blog post? Don’t! Get it done. There may be people waiting for your draft, procrastination is the slow death of the non-published post, the lost opportunity.
- Walk Away – If you are really struggling, take yourself out for a walk round the block. A lot of time taking yourself away from what you are working on can provide clarity and the direction that you need to make significant progress.
- Get on With It! – Sometimes, its as simple as telling yourself to get on with it. A little old skool, but can certainly help. It is recommended that this step is a very personal one and will have less impact if this is aimed at others.
Do not delay, start your Procrastination Action Plan today!