“Inaction breeds doubt and fear. Action breeds confidence and courage. If you want to conquer fear, do not sit home and think about it. Go out and get busy.”
A simple definition of procrastination is the action of postponing or delaying something. However, this definition does not make the important distinction of the context and reason behind the delay or postponement.
As most club managers know, when you delay something for a good reason you are not procrastinating. If a board report has to be prepared and new information comes to light, it may be extremely beneficial to delay completing the report until you have researched the new information.
And context is important too. Imagine you are organising a BBQ lunch option this coming weekend for members and guests in the club’s outdoor entertainment area. If a category 2 cyclone is fast approaching your area, and heavy rain is expected over the weekend, postponing the BBQ until the following weekend is smart - not procrastination.
As psychology professor, Timothy Pychyl said - “All procrastination is delay, but not all delay is procrastination.”
Therefore, a better definition is: -
To voluntarily delay or postpone an intended course of action despite expecting to be worse-off.
Some definitions go further by including phrases like “habitual laziness” and “carelessness”.
Reasons for Procrastination
In answering the questions of ‘why do we procrastinate’, three main reasons have been suggested.
Fear and Discomfort
All three lead to a reluctance to complete the tasks that will achieve intended outcomes.
The modern world and club environment are full of distractions and even one small interruption can lead to procrastination. A distraction diverts our attention and if we voluntarily give in to the distraction, and move our focus away from the task at hand, we have succumbed to procrastination.
In a club, examples of distractions would include incoming emails or text messages, overheard conversations, social media and always saying ‘yes’. And as well as external distractions our mind is a constant source of distractions. Thoughts pop into our heads and take our attention elsewhere.
If you don’t understand the purpose, reason, goal or objective for the task you have in front of you, you will be prone to procrastination. If you’re not really committed, lack the drive or are doing things for extrinsic reasons it is easy to delay or postpone tasks. In many organisations, people do tasks simply because they were asked. They may do them for status or approval but without intrinsic commitment, they don’t derive inner satisfaction. In this state, procrastination is fuelled by the desire to search for something we are more committed to or find more purposeful.
Fear and Discomfort
There are numerous fears that lead to procrastination – fear of failure and the unknown are the two most common. And challenging tasks can make us feel uncomfortable. If you try and fail you will not only let yourself down but also your teammates and club members. The feelings of fear and discomfort can be very strong and are the primary reasons for procrastination. And distractions are used to regulate fear and discomfort and rationalise actions. It’s better to appear busy, through distractions, than to be seen as a failure!
Overcoming procrastination is an individual challenge. There is no magic solution and self-awareness and judgement are critical. There are three main benefits of beating procrastination: -
Less stress – putting things off leads to anxiety, even when we are not consciously aware of it
Productivity – using time on task completion rather than procrastinating is a direct benefit to your club
Self-worth – the satisfaction and personal kudos derived from completing priority tasks are uplifting.
Here are some tips to assist with overcoming procrastination.
One of the biggest catalysts for procrastination is the size of the project or task in front of you. ‘This is huge - where do I start?’ In this state of mind, it is easy to feel overwhelmed and uncomfortable and the distractions are more in the forefront of your thinking. Instead of checking out your emails, break the task into smaller chunks. Think of it as a series of little steps and the task will instantly present as manageable and achievable.
The first step of any task or project is ‘getting your head in the game’. You need the information and the reason for the task, to be best positioned to proceed. This is not procrastination; it is an important part of the process. This preparation time has a direct correlation to alleviating the fear of the unknown and the fear of failure because you will have mapped out what you need to do and how you will go about it. By taking the time to prepare, you can stop procrastination in its tracks.
Another part of preparation is setting down milestones and short, medium and long-term goals. For bigger projects, this is really important as it maintains focus, provides motivation and limits future procrastination.
A classic form of procrastination is when we tell ourselves ‘maybe this is not the best time to get started’ or ‘I’ll be better placed to start this tomorrow’. There is never the perfect moment and by simply getting underway you will put aside the temptation of delay. Sometimes we surprise ourselves. When we think we don’t feel like doing something but get started anyway we look back with satisfaction.
It’s important to recognise that (most) mistakes can be fixed and that when you try to be perfect it’s more likely you will procrastinate. Mistakes provide an opportunity to learn and develop. They teach us what works and what doesn’t and we were born with this approach to life. The mentality of trying again is intrinsic in achieving goals.
Recognising mistakes are not bad, also help address the fear of failure. Mistakes aren’t failures but not achieving your goal because of procrastination is!
Starting a project or task with an attitude that it will be easy can be a trap. If and when things become difficult and the going gets tough you won’t be prepared and can fall prey to procrastination. Instead, recognise you’ll have to apply yourself, and that quality outcomes are the result of hard work. Achieving quality outcomes, through diligence and application, raises self-satisfaction and worth.
Deal with Distractions
You can’t necessarily avoid all distractions so having a plan to deal with them can be very useful. Remember, we can be drawn to distractions as a mechanism to regulate our fears and rationalise our thinking. Being aware of the distractions that are common to you and eliminating them (for example turning the incoming email alert off) is a good start. The next step is to set aside specific times during the day to deal with your distractions (for example spending 10 minutes to check Facebook at 12.50 pm).
Prioritising and Planning
There is no doubt that at the start of each day you will have a number of different tasks competing for your attention. The inability to decide what you should be working on is a common form of procrastination. While you’re sitting there waiting to decide, the decision might be made for you when someone asks for your help or input.
Instead, you should start by planning and prioritising your day. List everything you want to accomplish and delete the things that aren’t important. Then determine what is the highest priority item and focus your attention on that until it is completed.
In a workforce research study, 88% of knowledge and service industry workers admitted to procrastinating at least one hour a day. And addressing this widespread issue can result in one of two, time management realities.
The same amount of output can be achieved in less time; or
More output can be achieved in the same time.
The Club Managers Association of Australia (CMAA) has been supporting and developing club managers to achieve high levels of leadership and management ability for many years. The training and development of knowledgeable and motivated leaders that are capable of achieving greatness on behalf of their clubs is a passion of the CMAA. To this end, they offer the professional certification - the Active Certified Club Managers Award (ACCM).
Individuals who hold the ACCM, have demonstrated that they possess the skills, have the range of knowledge and can model behaviours that drive premium results for their club.
The foundation stone of the ACCM is the Club Managers Leadership and Management program, an online, training course, delivered by elevateB (a specialist training company) and independently endorsed by Australis College (a Registered Training Organisation)
The Club Managers Leadership and Management program has been modelled on the Diploma of Leadership and Management, ensuring it covers a full gambit of management and leadership topics. Importantly, it has been tailored and contextualised for club environments and day to day club management situations. To successfully complete the program, participants are required to demonstrate required knowledge, skills and abilities through application and activity submissions.
For more information on the Club Managers Leadership and Management program, click here.