Posts Tagged ‘procrastination’

The pursuit of “perfection” can lead to “procrastination”


Article contributed by guest author Stephanie Wachman.

Striving to be perfect has its good side, but let’s be honest: perfectionism, paradoxically, can paralyze us and zap productivity. It often leads to missed opportunities, blown deadlines, massive stress, and frustration with ourselves and others. If we can learn to tame the voice in our head that says, “It’s still not good enough,” then we can free up our minds and schedules to conquer other important tasks and initiatives. The net result of “perfection” is usually “procrastination”.

If you have a pattern of blowing deadlines or not starting on a project, ask yourself why you are holding off. From my experience in working with professionals I have heard three consistent answers.

  • I’m not sure what I’m doing
  • I don’t know where to start, and
  • I’m not sure it will be good enough

By holding off on starting a big project or by frequently missing deadlines, you are actually sabotaging yourself and your success. Ask yourself if you have a pattern of behavior that causes you to hold back on delivering work on time.  Some of us are willing to accept the consequences of being slapped on the wrist for a blown deadline then the risk of turning in work we think is “imperfect”.  I refer to this predicament as Perfection Paralyses.

Although you won’t find this syndrome in the official book of psychological disorders, this is a real problem that’s not easy to overcome—unless you are perfect.

The pursuit of “perfection” can be an elusive ideal as “perfection” is hard to define for ourselves but ultimately leads to procrastination.

4 tips to overcome procrastination:

Sometimes good is good enough:  In some cases, doing a good enough job is the right choice, especially when you consider the consequences of not meeting your commitments.

Find a starting point: When you are overwhelmed with the task at hand, start by making a list of all the things you have to do pertaining to the project. Drill down as far as you can go and then pick one item to start with.  Often, we just need to get started somewhere in order to get the work flow going.

Set a timer: Blocking a short period of time on your calendar and setting a time for it will help you with focus. Make it into a challenge, where you play beat the clock.  I often say that if you are really blocked then start with 20 minutes and just begin with brainstorming.  This will warm up the mind and get thoughts flowing.

Ask for help:  If you have taken on a project that is more than you can handle or you are truly not equipped to do it, then find someone who can help you.  It might even be a colleague who isn’t in your office. Asking for help can be a lifeline when you need it most.

Getting past procrastination and the consequences that go along with it will help you improve your work performance as well as decrease stress.  Leaving things undone can increase the amount of frustration and disappointment you have in yourself. The good news is you can overcome it by being deliberate in how you take steps to get beyond it.

Initiative & Bias for Action

soccerArticle Contributed by Amy Sargent

Years back I was at lunch with a woman who confided that she was in a good deal of debt. As we talked, I could tell that the debt was causing her a substantial amount of consternation, like a burdensome weight hanging heavily around her neck. After a long conversation, I asked her about her plans to get rid of it. Her response? “I’m hoping for a windfall”.

There seem to be two prevailing beliefs on how to get the things we want in life:  Some people are banking on their windfalls – to win the lottery, to receive that inheritance from the unknown relative, or just waiting for the right doors to open. Then there are others who not only are out there knocking on the doors they want to open but can often be found with a helmet on beating them down. When you want something, which way do you tend to lean?

I have to admit at times I’ve camped out in the first scenario. But I have a good excuse (don’t we always?). One Christmas about 7 years ago I received a phone call from a dear friend I hadn’t spoken with for years. She said they wanted to buy me a new car. She said to go pick out what I wanted then let them know how much it was and they’ll take of the rest. Not kidding. For a good time after that, it was hard to not to be on the lookout for more of these unexpected windfalls.

But reality is, phone calls like that don’t happen every day. And if there is something out there that we want, it usually falls upon us to take some initiative to make it happen. I like what George Bernard Shaw said:

“People are always blaming their circumstances for what they are.  I don’t believe in circumstances. The people who get on in this world are the people who get up and look for the circumstances they want, and if they can’t find them, make them.”

By now you’ve probably heard of the story of the boys from Koh Panyee, a floating village in the south of Thailand, who in 1986 wanted to become the world soccer champions. Problem is, they had no soccer field on which to practice, because of the limited space in their village that consisted of makeshift docks surrounded by water. A soccer field when there was no pavement or grass in sight? Seems impossible, right? But that did not stop the boys. They decided to build their own field out of every scrap piece of wood they could find. If you haven’t seen the short video – click here for one of the more inspirational stories you will ever witness:

How is your initiative and bias for action? Are you proactive and persistent at working toward your goals, or do you let procrastination and other hurdles keep you from acting on opportunities? Which of these characteristics best describe your methodology to achieving what you want? You:

  • are ready to seize opportunities and jump on them when they arise
  • have a hard time quitting something you’ve started
  • are happy to pick up new responsibilities that lie outside of your normal scope of work
  • not only reach your initial goals but go above and beyond them
  • refuse to procrastinate when you have deadlines to meet
  • plan ahead
  • are not overly cautious or unwilling to take risks
  • are able to bend the rules if necessary to get the job done
  • take action before outside circumstances force you to
  • are able to mobilize others with your enterprising efforts
  • want more out of life than your basic needs being met
  • consistently strive to do more and be more

Developing emotional intelligent traits of initiative and bias for action can be accomplished, one small step at a time, with the help of a coach, a healthy dose of self-awareness, and some good old fashioned hard work. But like the soccer-playing boys of Koh Panyee, the effort it takes is paled next to the reward of attaining your sought-after goals.