How is procrastination a barrier to success? To simplify, putting off tasks is putting off the opportunities created by completing the tasks.
What are the reasons people procrastinate? In December of 2007, Todd Rogers and Max H. Bazerman submitted a report (http://scholar.harvard.edu/files/todd_rogers/files/future_lock-in._future_implementation_increases_selection.pdf) at Harvard Business School on reason for procrastination. When people know they “should” do something, if it is in the future they are more likely to say they will do it. If it is more short-term they are more likely to procrastinate. The logic is that while we prefer being the ideal we act on what is easier or more comfortable. Consider this: the benefits to procrastinating are immediately gratifying and the cost of procrastinating is hidden or deferred.
A Washington Post blog talks about fear as a reason for procrastination. The blog goes on and cites other studies and includes a reference to the information above. Focus on the fear for a moment – is it fear of failure or fear of success? It may even be a fear of doing something tedious or boring.
What techniques help move past procrastination? Applying the insights from the above research nicely parallels what is taught in a coaching certification program. Ask:
- What is the ideal outcome?
- What are the barriers?
- How will you move past the barriers?
- What resources will you use?
- What actions steps will you take?
- When will you take the action steps?
- How do you prefer to manage your accountability?
- Describe your life when you complete these action steps.
These questions focus first on the reward – the ideal outcome. Next the questions define reasons for procrastination, the consequences. Then the questions develop a plan for moving forward. Then a question supports follow-through by planning accountability. In coach training we ask for a complete description of what will be seen, heard, and felt when the actions are completed.