There’s no doubt about it, procrastination is bad for business. It stops you achieving to the highest level, stunts productivity and breeds complacency.

No matter how efficient, proactive and motivated we may think we are, we’re all guilty of procrastination sometimes. This is when you repeatedly put off something that should be done today until tomorrow. Why do we do it? Some tasks are just not that appealing; either they’re too difficult, will involve uncomfortable conversations or risky decisions, or maybe we’re afraid of failure.

It’s all too easy to put tasks that you don’t want to deal with to the back of the queue, but while they’re sitting there, they could be turning into much bigger problems. Leaving them until the very last minute when you absolutely have to take action results in poor decision making and rushed output. And when this happens, the quality of your work, product or service inevitably takes a nosedive.

Procrastination can stall your business in a number of ways, and if left unchecked could have a devastating impact. Here’s why procrastination has stalled your business, and how to stop procrastinating, achieve your goals, and drive your business to greater success…

How Procrastination Has Stalled Your Business…

Missed Opportunities…

That lucrative account, new innovation or big contract – your competitors will jump up and seize these opportunities if you don’t. Make sure you’re ready to capitalise and don’t drag your feet over decisions or taking action. Some business decisions involve risk or a leap of faith. While that can be daunting, putting them off could mean missing out, or a high-stress, last minute rush. Give yourself plenty of time to evaluate all the pros and cons and make an informed, considered decision and action plan. Do the forward planning, big-picture research that never feels that urgent until you’re getting left behind, and you’ll see opportunities on the horizon instead of running to catch up with them.

Ruined Reputation…

Procrastination often leads to missed deadlines, unfulfilled contracts and broken customer promises. It doesn’t take long for customers, staff, competitors and the wider world to catch on to these issues. It will start to eat away at the trust they have in your services, and the integrity of your brand. Good reputations are fragile things; hard to build up and easy to shatter. In the world of social media, it can take just a couple of bad reviews for the rot to set in.

It might be time to re-evaluate your systems, processes or people to find the source of the procrastination and ramp up efficiency. While that may sound like a momentous task (and tempting to put off until a later time) getting to grips with it will pay huge dividends down the line. You’ll increase productivity, have happier customers and maintain that positive reputation you’ve worked so hard to build.

Damaged Customer Relationships…

Your customer relationships are the lifeblood of your business and must be constantly maintained. If you’re not nurturing them in the right way – sitting on enquiries or complaints, slow orders, not fulfilling contracts, lack of communication, you’ll sour relationships and send customers running to your competitors.

Employees procrastinate over these issues because they are difficult to deal with. Nobody really wants to have a conversation with a disgruntled customer, or chase up that lost order, but delaying will only make it worse.

To get to the heart of the problem, you need to look at where the procrastination occurs. Support teams may benefit from a customer service refresher or incentive schemes. Project managers may need further training in personal effectiveness, organising workloads or prioritising. Think about how you can help your workers to increase efficiency and in return you’ll have happier customers.

Low Morale And Productivity…

Procrastination can affect your staff in a number of ways. For example, if procrastination has caused your company to miss a deadline, it’s often your frontline staff who will be dealing with the complaints. If managers procrastinate; putting off big decisions or not addressing problems, it breeds complacency, insecurity and indifference across the whole workforce.

If employees themselves are procrastinating over tasks, productivity levels sink. Tasks that should take days can end up taking weeks to complete. Stress can set in as deadlines loom. Workloads begin to feel unmanageable and pressure from managers and clients to deliver starts to take its toll. Projects that should have been completed comfortably over weeks or months suddenly become incredibly rushed and stressful and the quality of the end result is nowhere near what it should be.

Stressed-Out Managers

When managers procrastinate tasks take longer, deadlines are missed and workloads pile up. Their teams become disorganised, complacent and disengaged. Unhappy customers start knocking on the door and tying up the phone lines. All this leads to stress, which makes it even harder to concentrate on getting things done.

High stress levels are bad for mental and physical health and will hit your business’ productivity hard. If your managers are stressed-out, look at how they are managing their workload and their teams and pinpoint any procrastination. They may need better workflow processes in place to increase efficiency. They may also need help with their own skills in prioritising, having difficult conversations, self confidence, goal-setting and time management. Support them to become a ‘sit up and take action’ leader, not an ‘it can wait until tomorrow’ manager.

How To Stop Procrastinating…

Procrastination is a habit formed over time that has pretty negative consequences. However, like any bad habit, it can be overcome and replaced with a more positive one.

The root of procrastination is emotional. What’s holding you back from dealing with a task or issue head on? It could be fear of failure or not being up to the job, or because you simply find the task very dull.

Identifying the cause of your procrastination is a good start to eliminating it. If you’re putting things off because of fear, try to pinpoint exactly what element of the task is making you feel that way and then think about what you could do to change it. Remove the fear, and you can achieve your goals.

Planning is good but remember, creating all those schedules and to-do lists can become just another distraction.

Try breaking down overwhelming tasks into smaller milestones. Don’t distract yourself with the ‘easy tasks’, and leave the more difficult things hanging over you. Tackle your most difficult tasks at the start of the day and you’ll feel energised to deal with the rest. Prioritising is vital. Instead of busying yourself with the less important jobs, bring the most important ones to the top of the list. We all feel the need to look busy at work, but there’s a difference between being busy and being productive.

Tie up loose ends and finish a task before moving on to the next – you’ll feel in control, have more time and get more stuff done well, helping you achieve peak performance. When managers show good habits like this, it drips down to their teams and becomes the normal way of doing things.

Tackling that daunting task that’s been looming in the background feels good. You’ll feel relieved, productive and confident. The only guaranteed way to beat procrastination is action – sometimes you have to dig deep for that extra resilience, tell yourself you are up to the job, and dive straight in.

Empathy works with teams and individuals to develop personal skills and business processes that build success. Don’t let procrastination stall your business, call us today.