Procrastination is a complex issue that pretty much everyone deals with at one time or another in their lives. Procrastination is associated with laziness and poor time management, but in reality, neither of these things is usually at the heart of the matter. Understanding how procrastination works and what is really holding your employees back can help you to approach the issue from a more effective angle.
Causes of Procrastination
It has been said that the root of all procrastination is fear and that may be true to some extent. Whether it is fear that a project will be extremely difficult, fear that results will be sub-par, fear that others will be overly critical of the project when it is completed, fear that training has been insufficient to prepare for the task at hand, or some other cause, fear is often at the heart of the matter.
Procrastination has also been identified as a symptom of the inability to connect meaningfully to your future self. When things need to be completed in two months or even two weeks, the date can seem far off and tough to visualize.
Cycle of Procrastination
Procrastination generally makes people feel bad about themselves and feel that they are not living up to their expectations. This automatically attaches these negative feelings to work, which makes people shun the work and further procrastinate. As the work piles up, it can lead to greater anxiety and stress, so people often continue to procrastinate on starting in an effort to avoid these negative feelings.
In overcoming personal procrastination, the first step is to become aware of the procrastination and the underlying reasons for it. From a workplace standpoint, it can help if managers become more aware of productivity levels, so that any lags are noticed. Once procrastination has been identified, it will be possible to formulate a plan to overcome it.
Break Down Tasks to Minimize Procrastination
If every task that is assigned is a monumental project that will take weeks or months to complete and require serious effort, it can drive a cycle of procrastination. Employees may be fearful of the magnitude of the project, so they may put off starting it until the last minute. Assigning projects in small chunks that can be easily completed in a day or a few days – and setting the deadlines as such – can help to keep the productivity levels high and make the projects seem more manageable.
Pump Up Motivation
Dreading tasks can cause people to procrastinate, so it stands to reason that pumping up the motivation to complete tasks can help to bypass the procrastination cycle. Whether you decide to pump up the motivation by offering rewards, explaining why a project is exciting, or approaching it from another angle entirely, making the doing of a task more desirable can inspire people to get to it right away.
Encourage and Support Employees
Since fear of not having the necessary skills to complete an assignment is often a precursor to procrastination, building employees up can help to sidestep procrastination. Let employees know that they have been selected because they are the best and that you have faith that they will produce something amazing. By stroking employees’ egos, you may help to create a more productive work environment and mitigate procrastination.