We’ve all done it – put an important business task we know we should be working on, even completing, on the back burner or into the ‘too difficult’ basket. Subsequently rationalising our actions, convincing ourselves we’re too busy, or that other tasks are actually more imperative or higher priority.
Valuable time is then squandered responding to inconsequential emails, surfing the internet, catching up on social media or pursuing some other personal deflection strategy we’ve devised to avoid doing what we know we should.
Procrastination! The scourge of everyone who ever had a difficult, uninteresting, mundane or distasteful task to perform.
If you’ve been there (come on, you know you have) did it make you feel anxious? Did your stomach turn just thinking about it? Of course, it did. Is this kind of behaviour keeping you from achieving the business success you desire and, on the whole, work hard for?
Often there is some kind of mental block preventing you from attending to or finalising particular tasks. A study in the US noted a connection between procrastination and perfectionism – maybe you’re not confident you’ll do it right or satisfactorily.
Or you could be trapped in a cycle of avoiding confronting a problem you know you’re unable to resolve. But not dealing with it then consumes your thoughts, preventing you from taking any steps, however small, towards confronting the issue and devising a solution. Inertia sets in and the cycle repeats.
Fear, in such instances, cunningly disguises itself as a helping hand – preventing mistakes. You might think: “if I don’t hire a new employee then I won’t let anyone down or be seen as a failure if the appointment doesn’t work out”; or “I don’t want to hear and deal with another person’s feelings if I raise a particular issue – so I won’t”.
Hiding behind your uncertainties may provide the illusion of protecting yourself from defeat or failure. But never facing up to your fears or the possibility of failure, condemns you to continue procrastinating, enables inertia to flourish and stunts the growth of both you and your business. Confronting fears liberates and provides you with the impetus to accomplish personal and business goals.
Remember: the person who never made a mistake, never made anything.
CHANGE THE WAY YOU THINK
Take positive action to change the way you think. Try some proven strategies to find out what’s on the other side of your fear:
- Focus on what you want to achieve, not on what people might think
- Pick a realistic deadline and stick to it
- Apply the 80/20 rule, recognise that 80% of your outcomes come from 20% of inputs
- Break tasks down into manageable periods of time – typically 25-minute chunks; use software – e.g. Pomodoro – to time and reward yourself
- Take the first step – starting a task is half the battle and it will get easier from there
With a little effort and application these techniques will help you modify obstructive behaviour. If you or someone you know needs help with something impeding their progress, ask them to contact Mark Calleja – at firstname.lastname@example.org or call me on 02 9923 2959 – to get unblocked.