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As you begin to read this workplace intervention blog, stop for a moment and think of what is lingering on your to-do list. I’m sure you can think of at least one thing that needs your attention but is not receiving it. You keep pushing it to the side and parking it for another day, ever optimistic that it will either miraculously solve itself or someone else will do it for you. That’s procrastination in a nutshell. Don’t worry, you’re not the only one – everybody does it!

We may know why we are pushing the task to the side, but there must be something in the way of us getting it done. It’s this unknown ‘something’ factor that causes us to do nothing and it is important that we understand it. Some of us may not be sure what we are supposed to do or when it needs to be done by. Others may think that the task is boring and can’t get excited or interested in it. So for them every other task is more appealing than the current pressing task.

We often know when we are procrastinating. We can feel it through our emotions way before we or others notice it. We have, however, become masters of suppressing the sense and the early warning signs our body-mind gives us.

We understand the consequences of procrastination and either have to drop everything else we are doing to make the final, final and I mean final deadline or we opt to not do anything.

We are all procrastinators in different areas. However, in the workplace we need to work out how we can minimise the amount of time we spend procrastinating. Some people may have thought it a good idea to overload people which meant that if they deliver 60% and miss the other 40% then it was a good deal. This really doesn’t make sense because the additional and unnecessary pressure burns them out faster which results in mediocre work, low engagement, less camaraderie and support of others, and it has an impact on relationships and team morale. The person becomes absorbed in themselves, leaving little room for any “We” or “Us”.

A recommended approach is to:

  1. Be clear and specific about the outcome. Vagueness fuels procrastination. In order to be clear, you need to take time to think and plan.
  2. Set a timeline that is tight but achievable.
  3. Obtain commitment from everyone – they should understand exactly what needs to be done.
  1. Check in regularly and help out when needed. Refrain from micro-managing because that might mean the timeframe is met but you will lose a valuable follower in the process.
  2. Build in a small buffer time into your task. Many careless mistakes happen when we’re in a rush and may be overlooked. We think or believe we are super human machines! Sorry, to burst your bubble – we are humans!

Be realistic when allocating tasks to others and buffer in some time for procrastination.

Try these approaches out and let us know if they worked for you and your team. Contact 4seeds for more information about workplace interventions.