Delayed Decision Making. By any other name this is known as procrastination.
I call it the big “P” word. It is the ultimate deal breaker when it comes to improving your time management or clearing your workspace. It causes numerous problems for yourself and others and it doesn’t just go away.
It increases your stress level, and even more importantly damages your self-esteem, confidence, and ultimately your relationships in and out of work.
And you know it’s gotta stop.
But changing this behavior this is easier said than done, right? So let’s break it down:
- It’s hard to break a habit you’ve nurtured for so long.
Because it is, in fact, a habit. You developed or had it modeled for you when you were a child. It stuck with you and tagged along through adolescence, high school and college. And it’s still with you today at work.
- It’s uncomfortable to think about doing things differently.
It might even be scary to consider you could have MORE time to spend doing what you want if you could just rid yourself of those pesky, nagging thoughts and corresponding negative feelings about yourself and what you didn’t do. No one needs to carry that around.
- Research has proven that although your brain has a great deal of neuroplasticity, it gets tired too.
Yes, the little gray matter between our ears has limits on its capacity. Filling it with repetitive, useless, unproductive thoughts limits your ability to think clearly and effectively when you need to do so. New approaches to problem solving and learning are hampered, not to mention stifling creative and innovative thoughts as well.
One thing I frequently talk about is getting to your ‘truth’. And procrastination is a great topic to consider when seeking the truth about what you do with your time. When you say things to yourself like…
I’ll do it later
It’s not that important
They don’t need it now
I’ve got plenty of time
…are you being truthful to yourself? Probably not. It’s a bit like going on a diet. You want that donut and decide to eat it right now. But it won’t feel good later. And repeating this every so often certainly won’t help you get to your goal of a healthier life any time soon. You derail yourself and the struggle persists.
But guess what. It’s not all about you. It’s also about others.
Procrastination issues come up frequently when working with teams. The results of a 2012 workplace survey asked employees what frustrated them the most at work. The umber one response was meetings and number 2 was waiting for others to do their work. And those others could mean you.
To Stop Procrastinating, Consider This:
- Remember it’s a habit. And you can change a habit. It takes not only recognizing the behavior, but owning up to it. Once you’ve cleared that path you’ll need the persistence and patience required for any type of change. Find resources to help you learn the path to this change and then the people to help support you through it.
- It’s about personal responsibility. Do you do what you say you’re going to do when you say you’ll do it? If you consistently answer no, then you’re impeding your own productivity as well as that of other team members. Continued delayed decision making can ultimately damage your relationship with others. And if you work solo, you’re damaging the truth with yourself. So practice taking small steps, doing exactly what you said and delivering when promised.
- Try the If-Then. Heidi Grant Halvorson has done work at Harvard and researched the power of projecting what needs to be done and then automating it ahead of time. For example, I really don’t like accounting, yet the monthly ritual of balancing my checkbook is a reality. I used to put it off until it caused so much stress and such a problem for my CPA that I knew I had to do something different. That’s when I decided to try the if-then approach. If it’s the second Saturday of the month, then I need to balance the checkbook. It works like a charm because I don’t have to think about it, plan it or prepare for it. It’s just something that I know I need to do.
So don’t let the big “P” word become a negative for you. Because “P” could also stand for Personally responsible, Problem solved, Productive Person.
The hardest part of getting started is…getting started. You can do it. Start NOW.