Tackle the Tough Stuff First
Hard as it might be to admit it, we sometimes put off the tough stuff in our job. Maybe you avoid meeting with a direct report who isn’t doing their work well. Or perhaps you tend to postpone projects that will test your self-confidence, abilities, comfort zone or patience. But procrastination is a leadership pitfall. Causing stress and anxiety, it sticks with you like glue until you’ve addressed it. So tackle the tough stuff first, and you’ll immediately eliminate undue stress, build your abilities, raise your comfort level, and boost self-confidence, too.
Here are some points to keep in mind:
Procrastination is the enemy. According to “Psychology Today,” 20% of people are chronic procrastinators. They avoid challenging tasks or addressing big issues, even seeking out opportunities for distraction. What’s the big deal? Procrastination is negative and always has consequences — some direct, some indirect. These negative implications can be tangible, like a missed deadline, and intangible, such as irritability from losing sleep over an issue. It’s an enemy that affects you, your team and your company’s potential to succeed.
Addressing challenges is often easier than you think. Taking the first step is the hardest part, but things often go smoother after that. The classic example is when you’ve needed to address a performance issue with a direct report and been a bit worried over doing so. Then when you go to talk about it, the person is surprisingly receptive, rather than reactive, and your anxiety melts away. You think, “Why didn’t I do that sooner?” You’ve freed up your emotional and mental currency, the problem is addressed, and now you’re able to get back to and really focus on your main job.
Dealing with “it” leads to greater productivity. Some people claim that they work better under pressure and actually use that clichéd excuse to avoid a project, problem or person. But this mindset’s repercussions can prevent and destroy productivity. For example, maybe you’ve put off fixing some software bug because it would test your patience and take too much time. Yet the crippled system slows the daily performance of your direct reports — and then stops altogether when it crashes one day. Everyone (most notably you) now suffers big consequences. You must do (in panic mode) what you previously put off, plus repair and pay for more serious damage that’s now been done. No doubt, fixing the problem in the first place could have lessened or prevented the blow, yet one common reason people procrastinate “dealing with it” is simply because they don’t know how or where to start. Begin by putting some ideas down on paper and then build a specific, deadline-oriented plan for tackling that tough stuff. Doing so will help you create the accountability and steps necessary for your goal achievement. And it will also help prevent further procrastination, so you can drive, rather than dodge, that critical, ever-productive change.
Are you guilty of chronic procrastination?