Procrastination is typically deemed a negative behaviour and if it encroaches on your business through inefficiency or loss of productivity, you should start to take action. But is it always such a bad thing?
What is procrastination?
Procrastination is defined as ‘the act of putting things off or delaying particularly when something requires instant attention’. It’s been described as “a dysfunctional self-effacing behaviour resulting in undesirable outcomes” (Choi, Moran, 2009, p.149). Interestingly, new research proposes an alternative perspective on procrastinating which challenges the typical ideals of time management. What has been labelled as ‘active procrastination’ is a second type of procrastination where individuals choose to postpone completing tasks and actively prefer pressure that induces motivation to complete tasks on deadline.
What type of procrastinator are you, the traditional passive procrastinator, the active procrastinator or the non-procrastinator?
Establish your procrastination style
Establishing which procrastination type you prefer is important especially if you work in a team. One important differentiation between the types is the stress coping strategies that are engaged. Passive procrastinators will typically use emotional or avoidance coping strategies whilst active procrastinators will use task oriented coping strategies when under stress. As a result, the behaviour you can expect from a passive procrastinator will be an underestimation of the time required to complete tasks and reacting adversely to time pressures. An active procrastinator on the other hand will calculate the minimum amount of time and effort required to complete tasks, they may work simultaneously on several tasks and whilst they do things at what seems like the last minute, they make effective and efficient use of their time to get the job completed.
The important take home message here is to identify which type of procrastinator you and your employees are and try not to inflict your preferred style on to each other.
Respect that everyone is an individual and has different preferences.
If negative passive procrastination is affecting you and your business, don’t panic, there are several things you can do.
1. Attend networking functions run by Bartercard or other networking groups and talk to other business owners about how they combat procrastination. Discuss with them how they manage both passive and active procrastinators in their teams.
2. If you yourself suffer from passive procrastination, consider how your preferred working style is affecting you, your staff and your business and make any necessary changes to ensure it has a positive effect on all concerned. Perhaps hire a coach to make yourself accountable and provide you with assistance to counter any self-handicapping behaviour.
3. Ask your Trade coordinator for assistance in implementing trading tips and practices into your business that will positively affect your business outputs and cash flow.
If you are someone who prefers an active procrastination style – advise the people you work with so they understand and appreciate your preferred style and can thereafter appreciate your preference for time pressure and aversion to highly structured use of time.
Author: Emily Johnson, Psychologist, MAPS
m: 0413 737 191
Emily Johnson is a Registered Psychologist and member of the Australian Psychological Society. She consults in the areas of organisational development and change, leadership, training and development (including e-learning), and content marketing. Emily is available to develop and faciliate professional development workshops and speak at conferences.