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Seven Ways to Procrastinate for Better Results

Seven Ways to Procrastinate for Better Results
Try procrastination!

Procrastination is a dirty word. It doesn’t need to be. Procrastination that stems from a lack of discipline, causes you to lose sight of your goals, and results in decreased productivity deserves a bad rap. But what about postponing or avoiding things that can otherwise cause us pain and frustration if we apply the go-forward, “get it done” approach? Is this type of procrastination such a bad thing? We don’t see it as a bad thing. In fact, we suggest that you include strategic procrastination among your most important tools for increased productivity.

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Let’s take today’s postponement as an example. We were scheduled to travel into a remote part of British Columbia to visit a pulp mill construction site tomorrow. Actually, it is a deconstruction site because the mill is being dismantled and shipped to China for reconstruction. It snowed in the area last night and is expected to snow again tomorrow. We could still visit the site because the weather hasn’t been bad enough to shut it down. We simply figured that the place is dangerous enough as it is with all sorts of concrete and steel debris sticking up from the frozen ground. Adding a blanket of snow makes it worse. The travel to and from the site is also harder. We decided to put it off until next week and to cancel it altogether if things got worse in the meantime. This is an obvious example but the idea applies to more subtle things just as well.

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There are a few good reasons to postpone things. Here is a list of seven places where you should consider applying a strategic postponement:

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  1. Where problems go away with time. The above weather example is a typical instance of where time makes a problem go away. Snow melts and evaporates. Many medical problems go away with time. Don’t be too quick to order a back surgery when natural healing processes can do a much better job if given enough time.
  2. Where problems are best ignored. Email spam and quasi-spam is a great example of this. Going out and trying to stop the spammers and beating up on friends and associates who send you stuff you don’t want is likely going to be a waste of time and effort leading to increased frustration for everyone involved. Just ignore the spam and delay the responses to email that comes in multiples. A delayed but polite and short response to a group of emails from a friend or associate received over days, weeks or longer can save you time, effort and frustration.
  3. Where you have good back-up and support systems in place. Don’t feel overly obligated to arrange or attend a meeting where you have others who can take part or all of the load if you simply postpone the meeting. Many urgent meetings, whether scheduled or not, deserve to be postponed. Sometimes they become effectively canceled after a postponement because a constructive solution appears in the meantime.
  4. Where something more important comes up. Be careful to properly assess the relative importance of things that come up. Skipping lunch to take an urgent call from your stockbroker is probably more important if you are being asked to sell than to buy. Postpone the call rather than skip lunch if you value your health.
  5. Where you are getting into a deal. Most Japanese business people are experts at procrastinating when being asked to get into a new deal or venture. This gives them time to carefully consider the relevant aspects and prepare for whatever consequences there are. Once in the deal, you should be fully prepared to follow through. Don’t be too quick to buy into stuff.
  6. Where you are tired, hungry or angry. This should be obvious but often isn’t. If you need to rest, sleep or cool down, postpone whatever it is that is preventing you from obtaining your basic needs. For instance, if you haven’t slept more than four hours in the past day or if you are feeling ill, it would probably be a good idea to postpone any major decisions.
  7. Where people are on your back because you are known to be a doer. Rather than going ahead and doing everything you are asked to do every time, depending on your position and priorities, procrastinate once in a while. Sometimes a good approach is to use someone else’s tendency to procrastinate in your defense. For example, if someone asks you to do something right away, respond by requesting a prerequisite to your going ahead. Maybe request an approval, budget, briefing paper or other useful piece that will help with the overall outcome. Be careful not to create useless work by asking for something irrelevant that does not add value to the process.

There is no need to sweat all the stuff that comes your way as soon as it comes. By applying these Strategic Postponement tools, you will be able to increase your overall productivity, enhance your well-being, and more effectively move toward your goals at a pace of your choosing. Feel free to occasionally say “Not now, maybe later.”

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Last Updated on December 10, 2019

7 Strategies to Keep Employee Motivation High

7 Strategies to Keep Employee Motivation High

Highly motivated employees are essential to the success of any business. Most people spend a third of their lives at work.[1] That’s a significant amount of time away from home, apart from the people who make us happy and the things we love to do. So keeping employee motivation high is essential for creating an office environment that gets the best out of our people.

But do you know what motivates your people?

It’s simple:

  • Is their work stimulating?
  • Does it challenge them?
  • Is there room to grow, a promotion perhaps?
  • Do you encourage creativity?
  • Can they speak openly and honestly with you?
  • Do you praise them?
  • Do you trust your staff to take ownership of their work?
  • Do they feel safe in their work environment?
  • And more importantly, do you pay them properly?

Every one of these factors contributes to the general happiness of your employees. It’s what motivates them to come into the office each day and work hard, hit goals, and get results.

In contrast, an unmotivated employee is typically unhappy. They take more sick days, they’re not invested in seeing your business succeed, and they’re always on the lookout for something better.

Stats show that 81 percent of employees would consider leaving their jobs today if the right opportunity presented itself.[2] So it’s up to you to set aside time and energy to create a work environment that benefits every one of your employees.

These seven strategies will help you motivate your people to consistently deliver quality work and, more importantly, to stick around for the long term.

1. Be Someone They Can Rely On

You rely on your people to turn up to work each day, to come to you when they have a problem they can’t solve, to be honest, and to always engage professionally with customers.

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But this is not a one-way street. You, too, need to be someone your team can rely on. They trust you to have their backs when a client is unreasonable, to know that the decisions they make are in your best interest, and to make good on your promises.

If you say you’ll attend an important meeting, be there. If your company makes a profit and you’ve said you’ll pay a bonus, pay it. The goodwill of your people is something you never want to test, let alone lose.

Be reliable; it’s astounding how much this motivates your people.

2. Create an Awesome Company Culture

There’s no denying that company culture trickles down from the top. Your leadership and attitude massively influences the attitudes, work ethic, and happiness of your staff. If you’re always stressed-out, overly demanding, and unreasonable, it’ll create tension in your office which will adversely affect your employees’ motivation levels.

In fact, the HAYS “US What People Want Survey” found that 47 percent of staff who are actively looking for a new job, pinpoint company culture as the driving force behind their reason to leave.

So if you have high staff turnover, you need to determine whether your company culture might be the motivating factor behind your churn rate.

Here are four ways to build a culture that keeps your employees highly motivated.

  • Be conscious of the image you present. Your body language and attitude can positively or negatively impact your employees. So come to work energized. Be optimistic, friendly, and engaging—this enthusiasm will spill over to your people and motivate them to be more productive and efficient.
  • Appreciate your people and be reasonable. Celebrate your team’s achievements. If they’re doing a good job, tell them. Encourage them to challenge themselves and try new things. And reward when deserved. If they’re struggling, help them. Work together to find solutions and be a sounding board for their ideas.
  • Be flexible. Give your people opportunities to work remotely—this is highly motivating to staff, particularly millennials. They don’t want to be battling traffic each day on their way to work. They don’t want to miss their kids’ baseball games or ballet rehearsals. Stats show that companies that offer flextime and the ability to work from home or a coffee shop have happier and more productive employees.
  • Create employee-friendly work environments. These are spaces that inspire and ignite the imagination. Have you ever been to Google’s offices? No headquarter is the same. From indoor slides and food trucks, to hammocks, and funky work pods on the wall, gaming rooms, and tranquil interior gardens, there’s something for everyone. It’s a space where people want to be, catering to their need for creativity, quiet, or team building; you name it.

So take a look at your company culture and ask yourself, Is my business an attractive workplace for talented professionals? Does it inspire commitment and motivate my people? What could I do to improve my company culture?

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3. Touch Base with Your Team Weekly

Make time for your people, whether you run a remote business or work in an office, set aside time each week to talk to your people one-on-one. It’s non-negotiable.

When there’s an open line of communication between staff members, work gets done. Don’t believe me? A study by Gallup found that 26 percent of employees said feedback from their leaders helps them to do a better job.[3]

Your people want to feel trusted. They want to take ownership of their work, but they also need to know that when they have a question, they can reach out and get answers. If you’re unwilling to make yourself available, your team will quickly become unmotivated, work will stagnate, and your business will stop growing.

So block off time on your calendar each week to touch base with your people, even if only to let them know that what they’re working on matters.

4. Give Them the Tools They Need to Do Their Jobs Well

Imagine trying to run your business without electricity. How would you contact your clients? What would happen when your phone or computer battery died?

Technology is super critical to the success of your businesses. It allows you to work more efficiently, to be more productive, and to handle matters on-the-go. That’s why you need to give your people tools that will make their jobs easier.

Make sure their equipment is in good working condition. There’s nothing more frustrating than a laptop that takes ages to boot up. It’s got to go. Replace outdated software with new software. Don’t make your designer work in Coreldraw; give them access to the most up-to-date version of Adobe Creative Suite. Take it a step further and buy them a subscription to Shutterstock or Getty Images.

Make working for you a pleasure, not a pain; and watch your employees’ motivation levels rise.

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5. Provide Opportunities to Learn and Upskill

Would you believe me if I told you that 33 percent of people cite boredom and a need for new challenges as the top reason for leaving their job?[4] If you want to retain your talent, you need to upskill.

Thanks to technology, we live in a rapidly evolving world that demands we change with it. A copywriter is no longer just a writer; they now need to be experts in SEO, Google Adwords, CRMs, and so much more.

A pastry chef needs to be a food stylist, photographer, and social media manager. An entrepreneur needs to be a marketer—or at least take ownership of the marketing message for their business—if they hope to scale.

Technology makes all of this possible. No matter your location, your people can continuously expand their knowledge and gain new skill sets—something that’s highly motivating to employees. They want to know that there are opportunities to grow and develop themselves.

If you won’t invest in your people, then your business becomes just another job to tide them over until they find where they truly belong. So be the company that sees value in developing its people.

6. Monitor Their Workload

Overworked employees tend to be unproductive and unhappy. Your people cannot be at full capacity every day, month to month. Something’s got to give. They’ll become deflated and their work will eventually suffer, which will negatively impact your business.

What I like to do is implement a traffic light system. It helps me to keep a finger on the pulse of my business. So there’s red, yellow, and green:

  • Red means they’re fully loaded.
  • Yellow means they’re busy, but they can potentially take on more.
  • Green means they haven’t got enough to do.

I use this traffic light system because I don’t want my team members to be stressed out of their brains all the time. If they are, they won’t make good decisions and they won’t do good work.

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If my people are regularly overloaded, I have things to think about. Perhaps I need to hire a new person to help ease the load or take a closer look at what projects are good to go, and which can take a back seat.

And this is why #3 is essential. If I’m regularly engaging with my people, I’ll know that while they’re coping with their workload, it is impacting their performance and health, and I’ll take action.

7. Don’t Mess Around with Your Employees’ Pay

Never mess around with your people’s salary. As a business owner or high-level manager, it’s easy to forget that most people live from paycheck to paycheck. Delayed compensation can mean a missed bill payment, which could result in costly penalties they can’t afford or hits to their credit score.

So it’s your job to ensure that you pay your people on time.

The Bottom Line

A motivated team is an asset to any business. These people never give up. They get excited about coming to work each day and can’t wait to test a new theory or tackle a particularly tricky challenge. They’re proud of the work they do. And more importantly, they have no reason to leave.

Wouldn’t you rather be part of their success story than the business that drove them away?

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Featured photo credit: Emma Dau via unsplash.com

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