Often, Stack says, it boils down to one of a few common issues: feeling overwhelmed, fearing failure, or disliking the task.
Another form of procrastination Stack mentions involves putting off tasks out of fear of finishing them too soon, because running out of work too soon can often have implications. This happens most often in jobs that continue only as long as the work lasts, Stack says, like construction or temporary positions, although it’s a risk any time a worker’s future seems uncertain. When jobs are scarce, this mindset can become more apparent in some industries.
Some jobs, Stack points out, are set up for procrastination when the worker knows that the only reward for finishing early is getting more work piled on, without added compensation. It doesn’t take long for an employee to figure out the pace that best serves their self-preservation, and chances are, there’s some foot dragging involved in keeping pace.
Usually, however, people procrastinate because they simply don’t feel like doing whatever it is they should be doing.
“It’s usually a simple lack of discipline,”
“But unlike those activities, procrastination doesn’t always stand out as an obvious productivity drain, so rooting it out mostly comes down to self-policing.”
Here’s the reality: sometimes you are going to procrastinate no matter what. You know what you need to do. You don’t feel like doing it. You know you’re procrastinating and choose to do it anyway. In that case, Stack suggests to readers that they do the next best thing: try to do something less productive than the task being avoided—a practice she calls “resourceful self-distraction.”
“I consider it a lesser form of procrastination,”
Stack suggests distracting oneself with one of the following resourceful tasks instead:
1. Work on tackling an important but non-urgent task.
2. Clear out the Email inbox, or clear off the desk.
3. Transfer attention to a medium-priority task that needs to be completed today.
4. Check in with those to whom specific tasks have been delegated but feedback is not forthcoming.
5. Knock out a low-priority task such as delivering mail to a colleague, refilling your pop-up note dispenser, or watering your plant.
6. Take a brief walk to clear your head, vowing to get to work immediately upon returning.
7. Clean out a few files.
8. Plan out a new project on a whiteboard.
Stack contends that when someone is not procrastinating entirely, at least they’re doing something somewhat worthwhile, rather than wasting time performing a low-impact task. For instance, if you’re already putting off an important deadline, you shouldn’t be filling that time downloading songs from iTunes or blogging political on Huff Po. Instead, you should cross a few less important tasks off the “to do” list. Stack says it might result in enough head clearing and momentum to motivate a dive into the high priority task you’re avoiding.
“While I’m a big critic of staying busy just to stay busy, I do have to admit that sometimes you can use low-value items this way to springboard you into a greater accomplishment,”
For information on making good use of time spent procrastinating, visit the http://www.TheProductivityPro.com website, Email Laura@TheProductivityPro.com, or call 303-471-7401.
About Laura Stack:
Laura Stack is a time management and productivity expert who has been speaking and writing about human potential and peak performance since 1992. She has implemented employee productivity improvement programs at Wal-Mart, Cisco Systems, UBS, Aramark, and Bank of America. Stack presents keynotes and seminars internationally for leaders, entrepreneurs, salespeople, and professional services firms on improving output, lowering stress, and saving time in the workplace.
The president of The Productivity Pro®, Inc., a time management firm specializing in high-stress environments, Stack is the bestselling author of five books: “What to do When There’s Too Much to do” (2012); “SuperCompetent”