Most of us procrastinate at least occasionally and some of us do it more often than we like and it causes us problems. Yes, procrastination may be human, but it’s not very rewarding in the long run for your business success.

 So why do we procrastinate?

According to The Procrastination Equation: How To Stop Putting Things Off and Start Getting Things Done by Piers Steel – a procrastinator himself at one time – suggest there are three types of procrastination. 

1. Expecting Too Little
When we have low expectations about the outcome- either getting rejected or not doing well – we tend to put off the experience. Then a vicious cycle ensues: we don’t do it – we feel bad about it – our confidence goes down and we keep saying I’ll do it later.

 What are you postponing because of fear of rejection or low performance? What would be the benefit to do them today instead of waiting until tomorrow?

 2. Devaluing the Task
When we fail to value a routine or a boring task, we allow ourselves to defer necessary crucial chores that are important but routine-and reinforce a dangerous tendency to ignore the basics – like paying your bills, doing expense reports, getting the car serviced, etc.

 Everyone has routine tasks that need to get done but are put off until later? What are yours?

 3. Wanting Immediate Gratification
The rewards and goals that can be achieved right now often seem far more appealing than those that require us to wait. It seems most of us are wired for short-term satisfaction. For example, responding to emails instantly, clearing every minor item off our to-do lists, checking the news, watching the funny video on You Tube, etc.

 What things do you do impulsively that give you short term gratification, but hinder your long term goals?

Start Breaking the Procrastination Habit

  • Identify what you put off. When you find yourself ignoring or delaying task, ask yourself why. Knowing what you tend to delay can help break the cycle and prevent future procrastination.
  • Build your confidence. Practice “success spirals,” small steps of achievement that take you outside your comfort zone-such as trying an adventure sport, or learning a new skill through a course
  • Complete little things before moving on to big things. For a particularly daunting project, start with a mini-goal or easily doable or enjoyable task to ease into the difficult terrain. By completing it, you will be warmed up for the more complicated or demanding aspects.
  • Use blatant bribery. Kids get stickers for going to the dentist. Why shouldn’t you get a reward for doing something you don’t want to do? When you knock off your dreaded task by the set deadline, treat yourself to a coffee break, have ice cream for lunch or even a long walk outside. Whatever will give you a positive feeling.

Smart Moves Tip:

For some situations procrastination may be okay. For example, when starting a big project take the time to plan it out or work out potential solutions. But if procrastination is hindering your performance, causing relationship problems (boss, colleague, spouse, etc.) or affecting your personal satisfaction, then it’s time to stop, examine possible causes and develop potential solutions. If you don’t deal with it now, then when?


Marcia Zidle, the smart moves executive coach and speaker, is host of The Business Edge  on the VoiceAmerica Business Network. The show features the Smart Growth System providing small to medium sized businesses the proper foundation for expansion: a Growth Agenda that becomes their roadmap, a Growth Engine that attracts and engages the best talent and Growth Leaders that make it happen. Marcia, the CEO of Leaders At All Levels, brings street smarts to help businesses get on the right track and not get sidetracked on their path to higher performance and profitability.