Procrastination; is this the ultimate challenge we face?
By Chris Deere
Have you ever been in the position where you know you need to get important tasks done, but you never seem to get to them? Other things get prioritised and the longer you hold off attacking that dreaded task, the more difficult it seems to be to get it accomplished!
Why do we procrastinate when the constant worry and energy we expend thinking about that task that we should be doing is possibly greater than the energy required to actually do it?
The longer we put something off, psychologically, the harder it seems to get it done when it is the same, often relatively simple, task that we started with.
Not doing something that we know we should be doing can play on our minds, can cause us stress, and can even affect our relationships with people. Furthermore, we can also be very hard on ourselves and constant failure to get a task done can cause anxiety, stress and even diminish our self-confidence.
Some people, however, are great at prioritising, setting targets and just getting the important things done. They are self-driven, focused and motivated.
But what about your clients? What if they are not one of these people and they too suffer from the procrastination bug?
There is another way, that may require the intervention and support of a Coach to initiate and drive the change. Procrastination can be mitigated by structure and accountability, if applied in the right way.
Most people would find it easier to let themselves down rather than someone else so why don’t more people make themselves accountable to someone else so they can make a positive change in their lives which will lead to many more positive outcomes?
It sounds easy in theory, but it does take courage, desire and a commitment to change and fully open yourself up to being accountable to someone else.
Some people find it hard to reach out and admit that they are struggling with procrastination or some other aspect of their life; they find it hard to be vulnerable.
Procrastination applies to both our personal lives as well as it does in business. How can we improve and move our business forward if we are busy fighting fires every day, claiming we are ‘time poor’, putting off those important more strategic tasks that result in us continually working in the business and not on the business?
The same philosophy applies in our personal lives. How can we move forward personally if we can’t seem to get the things done that, we need to do in order to take that next step? How do we address our procrastination, so we are able to work on ourselves and not just within ourselves?
This is where the skill of the Coach is so important. A client is very unlikely to open themselves up to a Coach until they feel there is a genuine connection, rapport, trust and mutual respect. This may take time but when you get to this point you can really go deep with your client. You can ‘subtly’ hold them accountable and really work alongside them to make real and meaningful change.
Whether personal or business related, there are several things you can do to assist your client, some of which are outlined below:
1. Help your Client Find Simple Tools To Assist
Teach your client how to identify and differentiate between the small daily, time consuming tasks and the bigger more strategic tasks, which are often the ones that they are not getting too. A simple tool to assist with this is using their computer diary to schedule all tasks that need doing and colour coding their calendar so they can visually differentiate the tasks.
2. Assist Your Client To Understand Their Blocks
Once identified, probe and question your client as to why they think they are not getting to these tasks. This questioning process will likely identify the root cause of the procrastination from which you, as a Coach, can begin to intervene by putting processes in place to assist them. This could be as simple as breaking a task down into ‘quarters’ and providing your client with goals, time frames and accountability around completing these smaller segments.
3. Different Clients Need Different Types Of Coaching
Different clients will require different levels of accountability. One client I am working with needs regular check ins scheduled. These are in the form of a weekly phone call where I receive an update on how they are progressing. Another client, only needs to make a commitment to achieve a task in a designated time frame, and will get the job done on time without any further follow up from me.
As a Coach it is important to establish the different motivation and accountability levels required with each of your clients; this will determine the degree of intervention required.
Once a task has been achieved it is important to celebrate this achievement with your client, regardless of how small a step it might be. This sense of satisfaction in achieving what may have been previously a seemingly unachievable task, does wonders for building confidence and can often create a new level of energy that starts to alter a previously ‘fatigued’ mindset. This new sense of energy and purpose can result in a long-term mindset change.
With an individual or small business, you as a Coach essentially take on that support or even a semi ‘CEO’ role as your client may not have the structure and support network that a larger organisation might have.
Whether in a business or personal sense, addressing a client’s procrastination to enable them to affect change, alter habits and be gentler with themselves, might be the most important thing you can do as a Coach. It might well be the best investment your client has ever made also.
This disclaimer informs readers that the views, thoughts, and opinions expressed in the text belong solely to the author, and not necessarily to the author’s employer, organization, committee or other group or individual.
Chris Deere is a Business/Personal Coach with ‘The Alternative Board’. Through the Alternative Board Chris brings groups of between 4 and 8 noncompeting business owners together to create a ‘Board’ whereby members can discuss their most pressing challenges, concerns and opportunities and draw from knowledge of the other business owners around the table. Chris says, “It’s all about collective wisdom where meetings are facilitated in a structured, confidential but relaxed atmosphere.”
Prior to this Chris was the CEO of Rainbow’s End Theme Park in Auckland where he successfully implemented new operational processes and procedures, rebranded the park, initiated significant capital investment programmes and was instrumental in developing a strong and effective customer focused, inclusive work culture.
Chris has also been a Police Officer in South Auckland, where he was instrumental in the establishment of a CYFs approved programme requiring a multi-agency approach to cater for male recidivist youth offenders.
Chris is married to Tammy and together they have two sons, Connor 17 and Regan 14.
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