Let’s face it. Even the most ambitious of us sometimes faces the procrastination “demon” from time to time. Call it “Spring Fever”, “Summer Malaise”, The Winter Doldrums” or any other name- it’s all the same.
For most of us, it’s a temporary state and sometimes indicates that we need to slow down a bit and get caught up on some tasks that we have let go by the wayside or it may just mean that our body and mind are telling us that we need to rest.
For the true and chronic procrastinator, however, it’s just another day at the office. In fact, about 20-25% of people self-describe themselves as true procrastinators.
There is a big difference between feeling unmotivated from time to time and being a chronic procrastinator. Let’s take a look some of the traits and commonalities that the true procrastinators have by reviewing the following questions:
- Do you actively look for things to distract you from your main tasks or projects? (especially things you don’t like to do)
- Do you get a “rush” or an adrenaline “high” when having to operate on a tight deadline and thus wait until the last minute to try to accomplish critical projects?
- Do you find yourself constantly “putting out fires” on last-minute tasks that were finished incompletely or items that were completed in an inadequate manner?
- Do you frequently over- promise and then fail to deliver on what you promised?
- Do you tend to over-schedule yourself in an effort to drive yourself forward, but fail to keep your appointments?
- Are you paying a big price for your personal and professional life by not being there when you are needed and as promised?
- Are you chronically late for appointments, both business and personal?
- Do you constantly let down family, friends and business associates from what you told them you would do and then end up reneging on your promises?
- Do you pay “late fees” on items you should have paid on time, even when you had the funds to do so?
- Are you afraid of what may happen if you achieve some degree of success? Do you have trouble making decisions critical to your business or even personal life?
We could go on and on, but we think you get the point. Procrastination can take a heavy toll on your business and personal life, and even on your health. It can damage relationships. (business and personal) It can cost you money in lost deals or late fees and penalties. It can delay your marketing so that it might be ineffective on some time-sensitive targets such as foreclosures. It can hurt your credit and most of all, your reputation.
Contrary to popular belief, one is not born to procrastinate. It’s human nature to survive and to take action. It’s usually not a matter of time management, as procrastinators do actually tend to pre-plan but often tend to misjudge the amount of time that a task might take. Some procrastinators use procrastination as an avoidance technique and sometimes will wait until a task is no longer required, or someone else does it, or it’s too late to have an effect. In other words, they just wait for it to go away. This is not a good strategy- especially in the world of business. In addition to you failing as a result of procrastination, many times you drag others along with you.
An example of this might be if you are getting ready to sell a property. Your team (buyer, title company, mortgage broker, insurance agent, etc.) all have a number of items to complete but as the seller, there is a lot that falls on you with some normally tight deadlines. If you fail to complete the items that are needed on your side, then the whole deal likely will fall through. All of the work, time and effort of the others will have been in vain.
Our culture of being polite and “not making waves” can further ignite the fires of procrastination, as can current technology. In years past, much of what we achieved had to do with person to person relationships.
One or two hundred years ago, if you were a procrastinator, unless you had someone that would procure food, chop wood and take care of your other essentials, you didn’t live very long. Even as little as 20-30 years ago, before the advent of small computers, internet and cell phones, (that do just about everything we need) person to person contact and interaction were still critical. Let’s face the facts; it’s hard not to be accountable to a person that you have to face in person from time to time.
With the advent of technology, much of what we accomplish is a series of emails, voicemails, documents, websites and more. Psychologically, it’s a lot easier to procrastinate under these circumstances.
Some of the characteristics of a chronic procrastinator can be as follows:
- Lack of Confidence. A person bites off more than they can chew, is outside their comfort zone and thus chooses inaction rather than pushing forward. The procrastinator may not have the skill sets needed to accomplish their tasks and is either embarrassed to ask for help or feels everyone will find out their inadequacies or know that they screwed up.
- Stubbornness and Manipulation. Some people like to be in control and by procrastinating they can make or break a deal.
- Overwhelmed. Many times, procrastinators, because they tend to operate in this mode through the entire scope of their life, tend to feel that they are victims, that no one is as busy as they are and can’t possibly understand.
- Avoiding Difficult Tasks. As humans, we tend to try to take the path of least resistance and accomplish the easier items on our list before tackling the hard stuff.
- Perfectionism. The perfectionist says that they need to have everything at an A+ level, when in fact a B+ would be more than adequate. A lot of so-called perfectionists are just procrastinators in disguise.
If you are indeed a certified Procrastinator – take heart, there are some solutions that we will discuss in Part 2 of this article!
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