Researchers found we spend 40 hours of delayed time in order to avoid just 5 minutes of work. Some surveys claim that on average two hours everyday, or 25% of an eight-hour working day, are spent on no-work related activities, while Wall Street Journal reports that the average executive loses six hours per week searching for missing information in messy desks and files. According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, wasted time cost companies 10,000 dollars per employee per year (based on the average American salary of 39,000 per year). The cost of managing interruption at work cost the US economy 588 billion dollars per year.
We all put off working on unpleasant or tedious task from time to time. It is estimated that as much as 95% of the people are prone to procrastination but 20% are chronic procrastinators. Where most of us procrastinate occasionally, procrastinators do it most of the time.
Why procrastination has more than quadrupled in the last thirty years?
1. Mistaking Activities with Accomplishments
Advances in technology have come at the cost of reducing many people's effectiveness. Easy access to constant distractions via latest smart phones and portable tablet technology is providing continuous interruptions at work. When procrastinators are confronted with facts that the activities done are unsuitable, they will react either with anger, open irritation, indignation or resentfulness. These reactions are the results of an irate defensiveness at work. When people procrastinate, they are engaging in a process of self-deception and very often mistake activities with accomplishments.
2. Increase in Exaggerated Fears
Procrastination is an attitude snatcher caused by the exaggerated fear's wary approach to doing things. When procrastinating we lose the ability to tell apart facts from assumptions, or real fear from exaggerated fear. These assumptions cause procrastinators to delay tasks until "the day after tomorrow" knowing they should have done it "the day before yesterday". Some of the most common fears causing procrastination can be best understood through the exaggerated assumptions underlying them.
• Fear of failure - better not to try at all then to try and then fail
• Fear of success - better not to succeed because then I will have to repeat the performance and I am not sure I can
• Fear of making mistakes - making wrong decisions or attempting the task in the wrong way
• Fear of feeling overwhelmed - we already have too much to do
• Fear of engaging - self doubting, lack of confidence
3. Inadequate Leadership
Everyone knows some fundamental rationale why we procrastinate. However, when we become inundated by exaggerated fear's assumptions we lack the will and self-discipline to fight and resist procrastination's negative pull.
As mangers/leaders we have to be more aware of our own tendencies to procrastinate since prolonged procrastination, and failure to perform adequately, creates a cycle of self-defeating behavior resulting in a downward-spiral of one's own and team's self-esteem
Some of the common oversights causing managers/leaders to procrastinate:
• Hesitation to take definite action
• Complaints about luck of resources
• Refusal to take responsibility
As long as we postpone changing our undesirable behavior, caused by exaggerated fears, we are controlled, directed, and chained by procrastination. We have to change ourselves first in order to help our employees and companies.
The way we can break from procrastination's entrapment is by taking direct and immediate action - action that is not deferred for tomorrow, but done at this very instant.
What to do:
• Take an interest in what others are thinking and doing - more powerful form of encouragement then praise
• Know that meaning matters - show your employees how their lives fit into broader and more significant context
• Use humor when correcting procrastination
• Lead with strength
• Unify strengths, skills and talents of your team
• Manage pessimistic thinking
• Focus on things you and your team have control
To change, we need to do what we fear and postpone the most often. And we do it now despite experiencing worries, insecurity and fear.
About Dr. Ivan Kos
To Dare: It is easier to succeed than fail
In a world where negative thinking, self-criticism and fear often dominate the day, To Dare: It is Easier to Succeed than To Fail offers an antidote that empowers people with the ability to learn from fear, overcome negativity, and transform lives. To Dare explores the fears that we feel, day in, day out. Some fears are real and should be respected, but fears that are exaggerated and unfounded keep us from truly experiencing our lives and becoming fulfilled individuals. In To Dare,we discover how to use fear's energy to work for us rather than against us, and become the winners - personally and professionally - that we were born to be. Appealing to the same audience drawn to such bestsellers as What's Holding You Back, Feel the Fear and Do It Anyway, and The Power of Positive Thinking, To Dare holds the key to the action solution for transformation. As a psychotherapist, lecturer, consultant and professor, Dr. Kos specializes in workshops on fear, leadership, optimal productivity, personal responsibility, and communication. Dr. Kos is a fellow of the American Psychological Association and a member of the International Association of Applied Psychology, among others, and lives in New York City.
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