Read the first part of that title carefully. It has, unfortunately, been an unwelcomed mantra of my life and it didn’t truly hit me until I unintentionally said it out loud. I was traveling from Texas to Alabama recently and as I exited the plane, I found myself behind an elderly gentleman. He was not moving as fast as the people in front of him so he politely turned to me and said, “You can go around.” Side note: Even though I am a Millennial, where I come from, your elder goes first, always. I smiled and said, “No, please sir, you go ahead, I have plenty of time to hurry.” It stopped me in my tracks, like literally. I stopped and actually laughed at myself because it hit me like a ton of bricks. That unintended slip of the tongue described the feeling that has haunted me since my first science fair project; sorry, Mom.
I’m not proud of it, but procrastinating has been something I have gotten very good at. I tend to work better under pressure. Having always viewed life in trade-offs, I analyze the due date of a task and compare it to the fun of the moment. In college, I would start every semester by telling myself, “This time will be different, this time I am going to stay ahead!” WRONG!! I wish I could tell you that the rest of this blog is going to be about how I overcame my bad habit by detailing the 6 steps to diminish procrastination, but that would be a lie. I do believe I am taking the right steps to conquer this malady but it is a work in progress. Let me tell you why this life course correction is worthy of my attention.
1) Procrastination is selfish: In school, if you procrastinated on a project, threw it together the night before and maybe got a D as your grade, you didn’t really hurt anyone except yourself and maybe the people you were rude to at the coffee shop at 11PM. But when you join the work force, your procrastination, many times, impacts other people. If it is late off your desk, it will be late off someone else’s desk and you may unintentionally cause them harm. I personally did this to a colleague recently when I waited to the last minute to finish a project which had to be formatted. Needless to say, I wasn’t the one doing the formatting. Only when I finished my task was the other team member able to start work and thereby forced to labor until midnight to get it done. That was a selfish move which I regretted.
2) Procrastination increases stress: You may say, “Caleb I know I am a procrastinator but it’s fine. I have figured out how to live with that.” To which I say, “Liar, liar pants on fire.” You may think you have figured out how to deal with it but ask those around you if they enjoy your company when you are working, last minute, on a deadline. I would venture to say you aren’t quite as pleasant if you know you are not going to sleep tonight. Stress can kill the positive connection with your peers, bosses, families, and employees. If the stress is preventable, PREVENT IT!
3) Procrastination steals Opportunity: The old quote goes, “Opportunity comes to the prepared.” If you are always procrastinating, you will eventually miss an opportunity. It may be that by the time you’re working on the project, you need more data and it’s too late to get it, or because you missed the deadline and therefore the opportunity went to someone else. Eventually, procrastination catches up with you and it is not pretty.
You have heard me say this before. Stay in your zone, I want you to focus on your strength, but I also do not believe it is okay to ignore a weakness if a few minor tweaks can increase your effectiveness. Procrastination gives you a false sense of having time to do a task later, but in truth, you may not. We are not promised tomorrow so whether it is at work or home, stop putting off till tomorrow what you have time to do today!
Caleb Bagwell/Employee Education Specialist
John Maxwell Certified Leadership Coach
Grinkmeyer Leonard Financial
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