The procrastination lie we tell ourselves

“Procrastination makes easy things hard, hard things harder” - Mason Cooley

Habits and ego can either be strengths that propel us to get our work done or weaknesses that self-sabotage our productivity. Procrastination is an example where most workers fool themselves into believing they don’t do it. The reality is they procrastinate either directly or indirectly.

Before I coach workers on productivity, I like to know their big-ticket issues but also what’s really going on below the surface. When I ask: “Do you procrastinate?” The responses see a staggering 70% of workers tell me they’re too busy to procrastinate. While some workers might have minimal levels of procrastination, it’s nowhere near 70%. In fact, the number as low as 10%. Let me expand on this further.

Of the workers who say they don’t procrastinate, 6 out of every 10 don’t action their work in a timely manner due to having a poor system to plan, prioritise, schedule and execute their work. The irony is they put off fixing their personal productivity system. An inferior approach to how they manage their work is causing them to procrastinate.

Layered on top of this is an additional 40% of workers who procrastinate from time to time. They don’t action what I’ll refer to as their high impact important work when they should. Their ego convinces them that’s not the case, but it is. A way to validate this is to ask the following 2 questions: “Over the last 3 months, what percentage of your Must Do work did you complete on time? Over the same period how much of your Like To Do work did you complete on time?”

Invariably, what emerges is workers were busy on their Like To Do work but they didn’t devote sufficient time to their Must Do work – the aspects that make a real difference between success or failure. The compound effect is we’re drained of energy when we procrastinate on doing the important Must Do work. That’s because we’re acutely aware of its importance but frustrated that it’s not done. For some people it’s an ever-present feeling that distracts them and even causes interrupted sleep. It’s just mentally exhausting.

Procrastination is a common occurrence faced by many so there’s no shame to admit if it’s happening to you. However, it’s unacceptable to do nothing about it because techniques and mentoring are available that help to keep it to a minimum or eliminate it altogether. Addressing it starts with a single action.