All of us are guilty of procrastination at one time or another. This is particularly true on the Friday before a long weekend, after the completion of a big project or in the immediate aftermath of a particularly stressful situation.
Even the most dedicated will cave to the mischievous inner voice that says, “Pack up for the day and go out and blow off some steam. You can finish that report tomorrow.” It’s usually needed and long overdue. But what if the root cause of your procrastination runs deeper, more systemic and emanates from the workplace?
Addressing your procrastination proclivities requires identifying the root cause. Let’s take a look at three common workplace examples and how to remedy them:
1. Boredom with your job.
The work you are doing is not challenging or energizing. Case in point, Lauren. Her role has evolved and she is being tasked primarily with operational responsibilities. This is a departure from the client-facing work she used to enjoy. She thought this new role would be good for her career, make her well rounded and more valuable within the organization. In the beginning she was accepting of the work, but over time realized that her new work persona was draining her enthusiasm.
Although Lauren’s newly assigned tasks are necessary, she is not challenged and, more importantly, she misses the work she used to do. It is difficult for her to stay motivated when her role and responsibilities are not leveraging her strengths.
Remedy: Take a thoughtful look at your current role to identify those aspects of your job that intrigue, motivate and enrich you, and those tasks that are boring, rote or simply disinterest you. This may be the time to have an honest discussion with your boss about redesigning your role to better fit your strengths and needs within the organization.
2. Overwhelmed by your assignment.
Feeling overwhelmed can manifest itself in several ways. It might involve having multiple assignments with no prioritization or, conversely, an ill-defined assignment with a long lead-time.
Bill was assigned to lead the development and implementation of a new process to streamline the workflow within his department. His boss handed him the assignment with nothing more than an, “I’d like to you take this on.” This assignment was in addition to his current role. Bill was given no clear objective, timeline or set of expectations. Not knowing where to begin and plagued with self-doubt, Bill was paralyzed into inaction. His attention turned to the “what ifs”. “What if I don’t meet my boss’s expectations? What if I can’t get all the work done? What if I don’t succeed, will it damage my reputation.” His current work was suffering and he was making no progress on the new assignment.
Remedy: The best place to begin is by drafting a plan. It should include an objective, set of expectations, discreet action steps and timeline. Share the plan with your boss, team members and anyone else who needs to be involved in the project to get their input and consensus. This will help share the responsibility for the assignment and enlist support for its success. Additionally, you can align your approach with your boss. If you are off base, it is far better to know that as early as possible when there is time to course correct.
3. Faultfinding by your boss.
Nothing will zap your initiative as quickly as a boss who consistently finds fault with your performance and is inherently critical.
Philip’s boss can easily be described as brutal. Everything that comes out of his mouth is laced with negativity. Nothing is ever done right or is deemed good enough. Philip dreads each assignment. To protect his ego, he waits until the last minute to share his work, even resorting to sending it to his boss after hours or dropping it on his desk in his absence. The negative communication between Philip and his boss is beginning to affect Philip’s work, his attitude and the relationship with his superior.
Remedy: Constant faultfinding from a boss creates an almost impossible situation. In those situations, the only thing you can control is how you respond. Review work with your boss first thing in the morning, before stresses mount. Try listening for content and not tone. In many situations, the way feedback is presented is more off putting than the feedback itself. Above all else, stay positive, take the feedback in stride and maintain belief in your abilities.
Getting to the core of why you procrastinate will help you remedy the situation.