We’ve all been there. You’ve got an important assignment, project or task to complete, and you’re sat doing everything else except the one thing you really should be. Checking Facebook, having a natter, doing the ironing…that my friends is procrastination. The sworn enemy of the small business owner and entrepreneur.
It isn’t just SME’s that are affected by procrastination. Top executives of blue chip companies invest large sums of time and money into defeating their procrastination problem. Silicon Valley tech giant executives are well known for their forward-thinking approach to improving their productivity. They’ve been reported to experiment with everything from meditation and yoga, to trying cognition enhancing (apparently!) drugs. They have tried all sorts of weird and wonderful ways to beat procrastination, improve productivity and increase their creativity. It’s a problem we all face at some time, regardless of how successful we are or stage our business is at.
I myself have suffered bouts of chronic procrastination. I remember the worst being when I was writing my masters dissertation. At 12,000 words in, I was getting in touch with old friends, swiping right on dating apps until my fingers were sore and researching completely unrelated topics on Wikipedia. Everything except finishing the next 10,000 words that were due in less than two weeks. It was frustrating, annoying and extremely stressful. I couldn’t work out why I was self-sabotaging so much, and the more stressed I got about it, the more I did it. It was a vicious cycle, and in the business world, one that can cost a lot of money. Luckily, I finished and printed my dissertation with 20 minutes to spare before the final deadline, and swore I’d never put myself in that position again.
Cotton Court has a history of nurturing small businesses and a track record of helping them grow. One of the main factors that we’ve found stifles growth in SME’s, is a dip or lack of productivity from their main driving force, their owners and managers. That got us thinking how we could help more small business owners, so we’ve created a series of blogs and free downloadable resources to help SME owners improve their productivity.
I’ve eventually found ways to defeat my procrastination when it does rear its ugly head (which it did when writing this blog article!) You can see how in this free e-book that myself and the team at Cotton Court have created, download it HERE now. But in order to treat the symptoms, you first have to diagnose the problem.
A recent article by INC, the well-known American online publication for start-ups and SME’s, explains the five common types of procrastinator. Do you fit into any or a number of these categories? Let me know which one you are, drop me an email and I’ll be happy to talk about which type of procrastinator I am and how I overcame it with ease!
The perfectionist is always trying to avoid being embarrassed by mistakes and uses the quality of work as an excuse for not finishing it. This procrastinator is very common, hiding behind high standards to negate any negative perceptions of work not being completed. These procrastinators may spend too much time on one component of the overall project, or leave it all to the last minute.
The imposter is the procrastinator who is afraid of being revealed as unqualified, inferior or out of their depth. Putting off work helps them avoid the risk of being ‘found out’. If you’re suffering from this type of procrastination, it may well be that you’re surrounded by people who are hard to please or that you perceive to be better at/know more about your job than you.
I’m a big believer that you produce your best work when you enjoy it and find it interesting. It’s the ultimate motivator, and getting started (and keeping at it!) is mostly easy. However, sometimes we all have those tasks and jobs to do that we just don’t want to do, so we put them off. These are the dread-filled procrastinators. Most people will fall into this category at some point or another.
When you’re faced with a lot of work, it’s quite often hard to figure out where to start. This means sometimes we just don’t start at all! Or at least not for a while. It may be that you’ve bitten off more than you can chew, your boss is piling on the work or that you’ve just not managed your time effectively.
The Lucky are the procrastinators who do it without fear. They think they do their best work with short deadlines and under pressure. Personally, I think this type of procrastinator is a cop out. More often than not, they’re likely to be one of the other 4 types of procrastinator, hiding behind another excuse for not getting the work done and effectively managing their time. It might be that they’ve had a history of working this way without any negative consequences and therefore in their mind it works for them, but they’re likely to get caught out one day.
So now you’ve seen the main five types of procrastinator, which one do you feel you’re most like? Are you a strong mix of a few of them, or maybe you’ve got a recommendation for more types of procrastinator? Let us know!
Now you’ve identified your type of procrastination and the reason you do it, you can work towards defeating it when it arises. Like an ex-girlfriend/boyfriend, you’re always going to bump into it when you least want to. It’s not something that can be cured. It’s how you handle it when it arises that matters the most. Luckily, along with the rest of the team at Cotton Court, I’ve created a free e-book…
It’s the first in a series of free e-books we’ve created to help SME owners and entrepreneurs increase their productivity. It gives our 5-step process for defeating procrastination and increasing productivity.
Procrastination and dips in your productivity can cost you and your business time and money. Luckily there’s a few simple things you can do to ensure that you’re on the ball, and focus on those essential profit winning activities.
I hope this blog has been insightful and in some way, helps you to overcoming your procrastination and productivity issues. Best of luck!