Everyone has an Achilles’ heel – that one thing that keeps us from achieving greatness in life and business. And the most harmful aspect of the shortcoming is that some of us actually let it dictate how we lead others, establish goals, or even view our own achievements. From lack of punctuality to apathetic goal-setting to struggles with working with others, each person’s Achilles’ heel can be a negative shadow following them as a constant reminder of what keeps them from becoming a great leader. One of the most prolific Achilles’ heels is the problem of procrastination.
Simply put, procrastination is the act or habit of putting off, delaying, or postponing something, which may or may not need immediate attention. In Latin, procrastinare means postpone until tomorrow. This delaying has become a true problem in today’s society. According to Pies Steel, a human resources professor at the University of Calgary, 95% of the population procrastinates at times, with 20% being chronic procrastinators. Moreover, procrastination affects one out of five people to the point that it jeopardizes their jobs, credit, relationships, and health. In fact, in a survey by The Procrastination Research Group of Carleton University, 46% said procrastination has quite a negative impact on their happiness and 18% cited an extreme negative effect.
Procrastination, like most Achilles’ heels, needs to be fought head on. And for the fifth of the population who are chronic offenders, it’s going to be a daily battle. Being proactive is the best way to push past procrastination and become a doer not a postponer.
Focus on Starting
Getting to the starting line is just as important as crossing the finish line. For a runner, it’s one thing to register for a marathon. Anyone can do that. And though the purpose is to run 26.2 miles, the most important part is actually showing up. As the old phrase goes, “getting started is half the battle.” At work, there may be some important projects that need to be accomplished, but talking about it doesn’t necessarily mean it will happen. If you want to see results, just get started. Once a task is started, you’ll be amazed at what you accomplish.
Create Manageable Tasks
One of the hardest hurdles a procrastinator faces is that of his or her own imagination. When looking at an overall project that needs to be completed, it may seem to be a daunting undertaking. However, if broken down into smaller, more manageable tasks, the large project turns into several small projects. Perspective is everything, so when a problem seems smaller, it is easier to start and see the end in sight. Using this technique may help you face certain tasks, but be sure to manage them well. Instead of having one project, you now have multiple tasks. Use your time wisely and focus on one task at a time.
Once a small task is completed, the sense of achievement can be a powerful drug. Accomplishing even the smallest items on a to-do list can give a procrastinator the urge to keep going. At the office, it is important to focus on items that actually need to be done for either self-improvement or teambuilding. This is where the person dealing with procrastination needs to focus on what needs to be done instead of what can be done. Some procrastinators simply do trivial tasks, masquerading as being proactive, but are actually pushing off obligations. The most notable ones are catching up on emails or deep cleaning the office. These are important tasks, but should be done after the necessary ones. Take Earnest Hemmingway’s advice – “Never mistake motion for action.”
Overcoming the Achilles’ heel of procrastination may be a life-long struggle, but it is imperative to the future of your success. Focusing on merely starting, breaking down tasks, and using completion as a motivator, procrastination can become a thing of the past, but it takes a daily decision to push past procrastination.
Do you struggle with procrastination? What steps have you taken to overcome it? Let us know in the comments section below!