A Weekly Q&A Column About Professionalism, Etiquette and Problems in the Workplace
by Sue Morem
Dear Sue: I have trouble getting things done and I tend to
procrastinate. I am struggling with all the things I have to do and
deadlines I need to meet. Is something wrong with me?
Sue Says: There is nothing wrong with you, and believe me, you
are not alone. Many people procrastinate at some time or another, although
some people struggle with it more than others.
Most people are selective with the things they put off doing, and for a
good reason; people tend to procrastinate when they are faced with doing
something they donít want to do. It is much easier to do things we enjoy
doing than it is to do something we dislike.
For example, people, who like exercise, look forward to it, but those
who dislike it, dread it. If you know you should look for a job or
confront someone about a problem, but doing so is difficult or makes you
feel uncomfortable, youíll probably avoid it as long as you can.
The lack of motivation to do something can be due to other reasons as
well. Time is one of the biggest culprits; having more to do than time
allows is a common problem.
If you lack sufficient knowledge or are facing an assignment that is
challenging or difficult, you may tend to put off doing it. Fear is
another factor; whether itís a fear of failure or fear of success, it can
be a roadblock.
The most unique reason for procrastination Iíve heard came from Mark
Goulston, author of ďGet Out Of Your Own Way". His theory is that people
procrastinate when they are lonely Ė we may not want to do something alone
or isolate ourselves for the time required to do a task. Enlisting the
support of others or doing the dreaded task with someone else is often the
Take a good look at the things you procrastinate. First, identify the
reasons you tend to put off a particular task, and then try to come up
with solutions to help you overcome it.
For example, if you are postponing doing something because it requires
a large amount of time, scheduling time to do it may be the only way to
ensure you will have the time you need to get something done. If a project
is overwhelming and you lack the information you need, advance preparation
will make it easier for you to face the task.
If a project is large, rather than trying to do it all at once,
breaking it down into smaller tasks will make it easier to accomplish.
Being held accountable can be a motivator for some -- announcing what you
intend to do to friends, family or coworkers might help, especially if
they will be checking in on your progress.
In addition to discovering the reasons you arenít doing something,
uncover the reasons you will do something; in other words, know what
motivates you and reward yourself for doing something that was difficult
Donít be too hard on yourself; there is a flip side to procrastination.
Some people simply work better under pressure. If you do your best work
closer to a deadline, it might be best not to fight it. However, if
working under pressure causes stress for you and others or you become
careless as a result of too little time, youíll need to do something about
Sue Morem is a professional speaker, trainer and syndicated columnist. She
is author of the newly released
101 Tips for Graduates and
How to Gain the Professional Edge, Second Edition. You can contact her by email at
firstname.lastname@example.org or visit her web site at
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