Procrastination: it hits all of us at one time or another in both our personal and business lives.
A classic example might be hitting the snooze alarm and deciding to give the gym a miss today rather than committing to the early morning exercise that you said you would ‘do’ this year.
The eventual impact might be a few extra pounds; maybe not too bad until you realise they are turning into stones and now your blood pressure has increased alongside your insurance premiums.
When it comes to business the implications can be just as worrying, if procrastination is a pattern you know you fall foul of.
Recognise these; missed deadlines and opportunities or allowing poor performance in your team?
Procrastination is a common human trait that even the likes of Socrates and Aristotle admit plagued their lives more than once. They gave it a slightly different name as philosophers often do. They called it, Akrasia, though fundamentally it means the same.
The principle being that human beings will avoid a course of action that is against their better judgment. In other words, its avoiding following through on what you set out to do.
Some examples that might be familiar
In the context of recruitment this might play out in the following ways.
It could be putting off creating the development and career path for your consultants.
Or perhaps avoiding developing your marketing plan till you; “have more time.”
Why procrastination happens
There are a number of reasons given for why we procrastinate. The most common is around time and the principles of ……
Short term gratification and long term future
When you are thinking about that marketing plan or career development path for your consultants, it is part of the vision of what you want your organisation to be like in the future. In other words, you are making plans for your future self
When you think about the future it is easy for your brain to see the value in taking actions and consequently the long-term benefits.
When the time comes to make a decision however, you are no longer making a choice for your future self. Now you are in the moment and your brain is thinking about the present self. Researchers have discovered that the present self really likes instant gratification, not long-term payoff. This is why procrastination creeps in.
Your brain values long-term benefits when they are in the future, but it values immediate gratification when it comes to the present moment.
When it comes to rolling up your sleeves and taking action you are now in the present moment rather than your future self, which means we are naturally wired to want instant gratification and will naturally procrastinate over projects where are gratifications is delayed.
So how do you work with this gratification and reward phenomenon to tame procrastination and move forward on the bigger goals for you and your organisation?
Here is my favourite strategy that works both for me and my clients.
Chunking down: Projects and tasks
This is a simple strategy that is so obvious people miss its power.
Tell me have you ever felt overwhelmed by ‘something’ on your to do list? An example might be creating the consultant career development plan we mentioned earlier.
The reason procrastination has kicked in is that in this example we are looking at a project rather than a task. It’s no wonder you are procrastinating!
It’s much easier to break it down into smaller chunks that get covered over a period of time. David Allen’ shares a technique in his Getting Things done bestseller that suggests most of the tasks that you procrastinate on aren’t actually difficult to do — you have the talent and skills to accomplish them — you just avoid starting them for one reason or another.
In our programmes at Centredexcellence I have designed a process known as an implementation day. Its structured so that our clients get heaps done whilst getting that instant gratification kick as they tick things off their to-do list; we all know how good that feels don’t we?
Here many of our delegates break down a project into smaller ‘tasks’ that they then complete. Suddenly that overwhelming project gets completed, step by step and faster than they ever thought possible.
Ready to get started and find out more about how we bust procrastination in the Centredexcellence programmes? Get in contact here and let’s schedule a call.
High performing consultants are the lifeblood of any successful recruitment organisation. The challenge starts when your recruiters underperform. There is a solution and I cover it in-depth in my latest ebook; How to Convert Your under Performers to Consistent Billers in 14 Days or less. You can download it here.