Understanding Corporate Procrastination

Understanding Corporate Procrastination

While procrastination is all in the head, it’s widely recognised as one of the most expensive invisible business costs. An affliction that most executive search professionals encounter, procrastination reflects the enduring human struggle with self-control, as well as the tendency to disregard the future consequences of inactivity, regardless of how dire they may be.

The higher you climb the corporate ladder, the more dangerous procrastination becomes. With a recent study covered by CNBC revealing that 2.09 hours of employee procrastination per day cost employers more than US$10,000 a year, there’s no question that idleness eats away at time, money and efficiency.

A double edged sword

To help you combat procrastination head on, it’s important to develop an in-depth understanding of the various forms it can take. ‘Classic Procrastination’ is the most well-known mode, describing a conscious avoidance of what you know you should be doing.

Yet delve a little deeper, and a different, and markedly more dangerous form of procrastination emerges. Plaguing those in the highest levels of business, ‘Priority Dilution’ occurs when the attention shifts to less important, yet potentially more urgent activities. In contrast to the ‘classic’ form, Priority Dilution is not steeped in laziness, indifference, disengagement or boredom. Instead, it’s characterised by a constant state of interruption and chaos. ‘To do’ lists are continually sacrificed for an endless influx of emergencies, which is a form of procrastination in itself.

Rory Vaden, author of best-selling corporate self-help book ‘Take the Stairs’ explains, “Distraction is a dangerously deceptive saboteur of your goals so you must learn to ignore the small stuff in order to work on the big stuff.”

The solution

In order to effectively overcome procrastination, you’ll need to action a two-pronged solution. First, it’s critical to develop ruthless self-discipline. This is the key to combating Classic Procrastination. Second, you must create and utilise a strategic system that allows you to effectively manage your workflow. This includes eliminating unnecessary tasks, automating repetitive responsibilities, delegating workloads where possible, and enlisting the help of an assistant to consolidate petty information and issue you with a single master summary at the end of each week. Finally, corporate organisation is a must. With a structured system in place, you can comfortably let matters wait, with the peace of mind that nothing will be overlooked.

Don’t let procrastination cripple your time in the executive suite. With the right cognitive tools, you can overcome corporate procrastination in both its forms, and work your way towards a smarter, more efficient workplace.


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