We’re all procrastinators in one area of our lives or another, and there are valid reasons why we procrastinate—but it gets particularly problematic when it starts to impact teamwork.
Putting things off that you’ve committed yourself to or promising to get something done and not following through can have serious repercussions for other people. Procrastination within a team causes friction and drag and holds back momentum.
We’re often so focused on how procrastination affects us that we’re not paying attention to how it impacts other people. One of the biggest costs is its ability to break down trust. So how can you avoid it?
“We’re so focused on how procrastination affects us, we forget how it impacts others.”
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Here are seven strategies to overcome procrastination and maintain the morale of your team:
- Design your role with the activities you have endless energy for. The more you design your role so that it doesn’t involve things you procrastinate on, the better. This may not be entirely possible right away, but pay attention to the things that are draining your mental or emotional energy. If certain activities constantly fatigue you, it’s more strategic to find a way to get them off your plate.
- Surrender and get help when you need it. We all have our skills and weaknesses. Don’t beat yourself up if you’re not good at something. Instead, partner up with someone who has mental energy where you don’t. Borrowing people’s perspective, brain power, and confidence will give you the inspiration and drive to get things done.
- Appreciate how you show up in the world. We’re all composed of a unique set of talents and capabilities. How we’re put together is incredibly distinct and something to be appreciated. Get in tune with your mental, emotional, and physical energy and how it can be used most productively. If you’ve committed to or need to get something done outside of those areas, delegate or find the right support team.
- Put the right structures in place. When you put the right structures and prompts in place, it’s harder to procrastinate on the things that need to get done. For example, if you’re someone who procrastinates on working out, hire a personal trainer and pay a year in advance. This takes away any of the internal debate of, “Should I or shouldn’t I?” because you’ve already made the decision. Also, make use of technology. There’s a world of technological support to provide you with reminders and alerts to get things done.
- Don’t think about it. What do you do when you can’t afford to procrastinate on something any longer and there isn’t anyone available to support you? A lot of what’s most exhausting about getting something done is the mental energy we expend on deciding whether we feel like doing it in that particular moment. Instead, don’t think about it. Borrow Nike’s slogan, “Just do it.”
- Break down big projects into small tasks. Sometimes the things we procrastinate on are the things that feel too big and overwhelming to take on. We don’t know what to do next so instead we keep putting it off. Start by pulling out a piece of paper and answering the question, “What is the very first action step I need to take?” By breaking things down into small, achievable tasks, it helps capture the momentum you need to get going.
- Set short deadlines and give incentives. Working under the gun can sometimes be the best way to get something done. When you give yourself a short time frame, it forces you to make the task your top priority and to put all your focus and creativity into getting it done. Also, make sure to reward yourself. Whatever motivates you, use that as a carrot to dangle in front of yourself to get going.
Procrastination is natural and normal, but it doesn’t have to impede your progress. Put in place strategies and tactics that work for you and your team. By prioritizing teamwork and ensuring that things are done in a timely manner with quality standards, you’ll move toward results and progress faster than ever before. Don’t let procrastination be the reason results don’t happen.