I'd bet a lot of money that procrastination costs businesses more lost sales than any other single factor. And I know from hard experience that the “p-word” causes suffering in families, too. Why DO we put things off? Procrastination seems to fall into two categories. The first category includes when we really do NOT want to take the action. Here are two examples:
- We don't want to do whatever it is, but we also don't want to speak up and disagree. Instead, we take the passive way out and sit on it, silently expressing disagreement through inaction.
- We are angry with the person this action will affect, so we procrastinate as a silent expression of anger.
The second category is when we say or think that we want to take action, but we just don't ever get to it. Usually, the inaction can be traced to one of three issues:
- We don't know how to do it
- The action isn't really necessary – it's a should and it therefore isn't a high priority
- We are missing a piece of information we need to move forward.
So how can we move past procrastination and into action? In the case of silent disagreement or anger, it helps to remind ourselves that only action will shift disagreement or anger, inaction bottles the energy up in us and has ill effects.
In the case of “I want to do it, I just never get to it” we can apply a few rules to help get us unstuck.
- Prioritize your “to-do but never gets done” list SOLELY by return on investment (ROI). This is not usually how we go about prioritizing, but in business it should be!
- Take each item on your list and literally write each into your schedule, using a realistic time frame for completion. (Hint: These tasks usually take longer than we wish, which is one reason we keep putting them off.)
- Hand it off to someone else on your team to get done (with a clearly stated deadline).
Accept that procrastination's cost is too high for both your personal and business lives, and you will get more focused and live with greater clarity and peace of mind. These two will definitely help your business thrive.