Procrastination: A Career Killer


Are you a procrastinator? Do you know a procrastinator? If you’re not sure, here are some ways you can tell if you or someone you know is a procrastinator:

  • Do you always (or even most of the time) put things off until they absolutely have to be done?
  • Do you miss deadlines frequently?
  • Do you get frustrated when you think about tackling specific tasks or projects?
  • Do you find yourself constantly rushing to get tasks or projects completed?
  • Do you make excuses as to why you can’t start on a task or project right way?

There are many reasons that a person may procrastinate, such as:

  • Fear: anxiety plays a large factor in procrastination. When someone feels anxious about a task it’s likely because they think they’ll fail, or because they’re not quite sure how to approach the task to even begin. The feeling of being overwhelmed comes into play here as well. If the individual feels the task is too large to handle, or they don’t have enough time to complete it, they may become overwhelmed with the process, creating a sense of fear.
  • Not knowing where to start: this is quite common among procrastinators. If they don’t know where to even start on a project, then they will put the project off as long as possible because they just can’t wrap their head around where to even begin.
  • Too difficult: the difficulty of the task may vary, but generally the more difficult the task the more likely it’ll be put off by a procrastinator. A procrastinator would prefer to complete simpler and more pleasurable activities first to give them the instant satisfaction of a job well done.

So, how can procrastination be a career killer? Here are a few examples:

  • Consistently completing tasks or projects after the due date can create an impression among supervisors and coworkers that the individual isn’t reliable or dependable.
  • A procrastinator will be overlooked for major projects that could give them an advantage in the workplace because they won’t be seen as trustworthy.
  • Rushing to complete projects at the last minute can cause mistakes, an unfinished or unpolished professional look, and won’t be taken lightly by a boss or team member.
  • Work ethics will be called out if the projects aren’t created at a certain level of expectations.
  • A procrastinator will be viewed as someone who just makes excuses and doesn’t create quality work consistently.

Even with just one or two of these examples, a supervisor may choose to use, promote, and applaud others and leave the procrastinator in the dust in regard to increased responsibilities, raises, and promotions.

How do you (or someone you know) fix it?

  • Begin working immediately: create a plan. Figure out the specific steps of what needs to happen to complete the task – and write them down as a plan of action. Creating an action plan will help reduce the fear of tackling the project and will help reduce the procrastination time.
  • Enlist help: follow-up with a supervisor, team member, or coworker on specific tasks you need help with that they could easily complete. Ask for completion or submission dates for their specific tasks so you know when to expect them. Having help will help hold the procrastinator responsible, and will share the weight of the project with others, reducing the anxiety and the fear of failure.
  • Break up the project: don’t try tackling the entire project in one shot, especially if it’s a large project. Create blocks of things that need to be done by a certain date and then list the next steps for the project. This will give the procrastinator a sense of accomplishment as each portion of the project is completed.
  • Be consistent: this is especially true while working with other team members. Show them that you are serious about completing the project on time and with quality. This will help hold everyone accountable, will create a much better outcome, and increase the ability to obtain promotions, raises, and recognition.

Procrastination is not something that will be ‘cured’ overnight. It will take work, it’ll be quite frustrating at times, and some things may still slip through the cracks at times. But, as long as you (or the person you know) work at changing the way tasks and projects are handled and are more forward thinking, it’ll get easier and easier in the future to prevent procrastination. Just take it one day at a time.

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