Friday, June 15, 2007

Why We Waste Time

I came across some information regarding why we procrastinate the other day and while I did not like the information in the article, I did like the reasons they gave for procrastination. Defined as “to postpone something, especially as a regular practice”, procrastination is simply spending time wasting time and is something that most of us frequently find ourselves doing. The five reasons listed are:

1. You Haven't Really Committed to Doing the Job
2. You're Afraid of the Job
3. You Don't Place a High Enough Priority on the Activity
4. You Don't Know Enough to Do the Task
5. You Just Plain Don't Wanna!

If you haven’t really committed to doing the job then you might just have accepted or been given the wrong task. The problem here is that we accept these tasks knowing that they are wrong for us, so to get to the root of the problem we need to ask ourselves “why are we doing this?”, “what is our purpose?” Until we can find a purpose in everything that we do, we will never find the motivation to do the job the right way. Instead we slowly work our way through the task delivering sub par results that our name is attached to. What we forget to remember is that we have the power to say “no”. As difficult as it might be, if you aren’t committed to the task that you are doing, find someone who is and save the people around you the extra work of making up for your disinterest.

Sometimes we are given a task that we are afraid of. Fear in performance comes in two parts, fear of failure and fear of success. Either root of fear produces the same debilitating results and decreased performance. If you are afraid to fail then really take a hard look at the task and your ability to achieve it. Many times just being realistic about our abilities will let us know if this fear is reality or created in our own minds. When the fear is created then we must focus on internal performance rather than what other will think of the end result. There is nothing wrong with giving your best effort and failing, which is a much better alternate then giving little effort and achieving the same result. If your fear is of success then you are probably not emotionally ready to take the next step in responsibility. People who fear success are constantly questioning themselves on what will happen when they succeed. Typically when we are successful we gain new responsibilities and challenges, sometimes greater then we think we are capable of. Remember that you have the power to accept or deny those challenges and we only have top make those decisions when we have proven the ability to be offered them.

If you are in a position where you don’t place a high enough priority on the activity then it is time to find someone who will. We have all had the job that has no emotional attachment to us, but it is a necessity. To let it go means that you are ultimately making the pending process longer and more tedious therefore it is our responsibility to find someone who has an emotional attachment to the task. There is nothing wrong with outsourcing your task therefore focusing your efforts on something that will stimulate you personally. When we have no investment in the work we are doing then we have no investment in the outcome of the event, which will ultimately reflect negatively on our ability to perform.

If you don’t know enough to accomplish the task then it is your responsibility to collaborate with others who do. Great managers know their weaknesses and find others strong in those areas to complement their strengths. This way the job gets done with high quality and integrity. When we are afraid to admit to these weaknesses and move forward with no idea of what we are doing our end result suffers and again we look bad for the result. It is simple to just ask, admit your faults, and move forward. In fact your peers will gain respect for your honesty and you will learn new skills in the process.

If you just plain don’t wanna, then don’t. There is nothing worse then watching someone do something that they don’t want to and it ultimately means that the crappy job that they will do creates more work for the people around them.

Procrastination is something that can easily be avoided when we finally are able to become accountable for our faults as well as our strengths. Once we are able to do this we can then stop pretending to be better than we are and put the task in the hands of someone who can get things done. Time is precious and there is nothing better than having more time because we finally decided to work smarter rather than harder.

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