Procrastination in Business – Is it good?
I’ll bet you never thought procrastination in business was a good thing – but it must be – because everybody does it. If it was a bad thing the process of natural selection would have killed off all of us procrastinators a long time ago. Nature keeps what works and discards the rest.
So it follows that if something is common and consistent across societies as procrastination is it must have a practical application. We just haven’t thought of it yet. This is a fun article with a serious point at the end.
One thing I’ve discovered about procrastination is that it presents opportunities to feel good about myself. Let me explain, when I finally do something that I’ve been putting off for a while I generally feel pretty good about it.
For example, I don’t wash my truck often enough, but I feel pretty good when it’s clean. For other people who drive around in spotless vehicles all the time, it’s just same old, same old. No reason to feel good at all.
I’m getting to be pretty happy about my procrastination. Consider the people I should be keeping in contact with. When I do get around to calling them just to see how they are doing we get into a pretty good chin wag. I’ve got lots to tell them and lots has happened in their lives and at their work as well. I feel good when I finally hang up the phone.
The way I see it my life is just littered with good opportunities to be proud of myself. Every day is like Christmas! I see presents I’ve left for myself almost everywhere I go.
Some of these presents are big ones too! You know like the ones under the tree that you can’t wait to open because you just know something good will be inside. The wait seems like an eternity. Okay, okay I know I just identified a downside to procrastination, but let’s get back to the real story.
Practical Aspects of Procrastination in Business
If you own a company your procrastination helps to create the job description for your next hire. Take a couple of weeks and write down everything you’ve been procrastinating on. Then turn the list into a partial job description for the new person. Presents are like that, sometimes you give and sometimes you receive. This process works well for delegation too. Go through the list with a mind to offloading all the stuff you can’t rely on yourself to get done in a timely manner.
There is a neat thing about to-do lists. For almost every item on the list, there are lots of people who enjoy doing the tasks and even more people who would think it was a decent job. Why not find somebody who would like to do the items on your list and put them to work.
Procrastination in business also identifies blockages in your company’s development. Chances are good that the items on your list don’t play to your strengths. Chances are even better than if the tasks get done your business will improve. This might apply to a challenging conversation with a difficult employee, making sales calls, getting the paperwork organized, developing systems for your company, creating a marketing plan, or perhaps even holding that long-overdue staff meeting. These are all good things to have completed. Serious presents waiting to be opened.
That being said there are some things that you have to do for yourself. These are the things you just can’t or shouldn’t pass off to somebody else. If you get the rest of the items off of your list then getting the remaining hard bits done is easier.
A New Perspective on Procrastination in Business
As long as you see your procrastination list this way, you can learn how to ask for help when and where you need it. It will teach you to build a support network. You’ll achieve your dreams much faster. I’ve seen the alternative much too often, in fact, I’ve lived it. When I realized how little was holding me back I almost couldn’t believe it. Sometimes the distance between struggle and success isn’t that far.
See procrastination as a friend who wants to help you enjoy your life and achieve your dreams. It’s a quirky friend that has a nasty habit of talking in riddles, but a good friend none-the-less who wants to help you distinguish between activities that you enjoy, activities you don’t and even activities that are ‘energy vampires’ with the potential to suck the life right out of you.
Learn to listen to procrastination in a productive manner. It will teach you some valuable lessons that can have a huge impact on your life and your company.
I think I’ll get right on that, maybe tomorrow, or the day after that, a week Thursday looks promising …
Procrastination in business has another interesting dimension. Sometimes we don’t move ahead because we are unsure about how to proceed. The uncertainty seems to nail our shoes to the floor.
The problem is that business has a never-ending learning curve. If you look back at where you were five years ago you’ll be amazed at how much you’ve learned along your journey towards today. It’s even more interesting to think about what you didn’t know that you didn’t know, way back then.
Procrastination in business can be a protective measure that holds you back when you’re uncertain about the results you’ll get. It sometimes proves to be worthwhile if the right lessons or resources come your way in due time. However; when what’s at stake is important to the success of your company it’s advisable to push forward.
If you’ve been procrastinating for a while a small – but perhaps personally difficult – move in the right direction can ignite a series of events that leads quickly to the results you’ve always wanted.
A good first step can be finding someone or a few people who’ve successfully tackled this type of challenge before. I’ve found that solving most business problems doesn’t involve rocket science. In fact, I’ve never found a business problem that needed rocket science as part of the solution.
Procrastination in business is often a sure sign that you need to improve your skills or learn more information. It pays to learn to listen to it and then take action.
Brilliant stuff John. I love the way you’ve ‘reclaimed’ procrastination as a positive. I’d like to see it as both positive and negative as from my experience of working with it, procrastination can be a sign of the saboteur at work. But if we see it from the standpoint of being negative but with a lot to gain from it, we can start to see it in perspective. Thank you. Much appreciated.
Making lemonade out of the lemons in your business … real cool!
Okay, making lemonade out of the lemons in your business … real cool!
Patrick John Laake
That was a fun article to read! I having trouble deciding, though, whether it was actually helpful or just providing me another excuse to keep procrastinating…. Oh well, I’ll decide that later.
Okay, procrastination can be the “stop, look, listen perspective before doing business. Like think before you speak and look before you leap! Love the post.