Author: Michael Thomas
Published: August 10th, 2020
I’m certain we are all aware of the term procrastination, but for those new to the game, procrastination is the act of putting something off to be done at a later time, otherwise known as placing it on the back-burner. For the technology professional, there is no difference. Technology resources have much going on, that their plates are usually already overloaded, causing completely forgetfulness about that little something and while it may not be necessarily be urgent at that moment, it will certainly develop into something urgent soon enough. Perhaps, we consider that task to be considerably easy within the context of time, though we elect to put it to the side, and it comes back on us or perhaps that given task may take too much time and we simply say we’ll take of it at a later. In any case, long-term procrastination can become a bad thing and certainly develop negative impacts towards your career. These negative impacts can result into, but are not limited to, developing bad credibility, lowered work ethics, anxiety, lowered self-esteem, overwhelming tasks, future career challenges, and much more. This is a seemingly interesting challenge to overcome, but I can assure you it is at the very least manageable on a professional level.
Have I ever procrastinated? On both a personal and professional level, absolutely! I literally cannot think of one person that has not procrastinated within my own circle of friends and associates. It is an inevitability within your life to procrastinate at one point or another. Think about it. How simple is it to be faced with a series of tasks and merely say eh, I can take care of that later? Absolutely simple. For me, it was not just one-time event though, the act of procrastination became a normal work ethic and the only driver I possessed was to focus on interesting tasks, tasks that challenged me. Simple responsibilities were put to the side. Until one day, I put off something very big. Something so big it warranted a visit from the director of the division. When asked about the miss, my response was merely that it slipped through the cracks. His response was short, simple, and to the point. “It won’t happen a second time” and with that I was energized and motivated to begin researching procrastination and solutions. My research led me to many solutions, but I gravitated towards time-management, specifically scheduling, and identifying important due outs. In my mind, this was the logical step, find the focus points, assign yourself time to work them and complete them by their due date. This was a great first step and enabled success. I later learned to focus and incorporate vision as well as goals within my scheduling, meaning that if I were given multiple projects, understanding which project generated the most value would obviously receive the most time. While my solution was time-management, others may find different solutions to their problems.
In fact, while using the right methodology, procrastination itself can be an ally in daily work activities. This can be accomplished by understanding prioritization and the urgency of a given task. Assume that you assign each task on any given day a priority of 1 – 10, with 1 the most urgent and 10 the least urgent. Obviously, anything from 1-5 warrants more attention as compared to 6-10, meaning that 6-10 can afford to be procrastinated if it does not become an urgent need. This is in in fact how I currently manage my projects, on a scale of 1-3. With 1’s obtaining the most focus time throughout the week and 3, the least. In fact, I dedicate time each week to review my projects to determine their priority and if they need to change, based upon their status and tasks due.
How can we fix procrastination? You don’t necessarily have to; you merely need to understand that it exists and that you don’t want to let procrastination drive you. Start with time management. For those technology professionals interested, I recommend Thomas A. Limoncelli’s Time Management for System Administrators. It provides several techniques to manage your time. Next, focus on understanding objectives. I am not referring to what is necessarily written on paper, I mean take time to truly understand the outcome and what good looks like for the task. Another consideration is to focus on the now, as in, what can I do right now, what cannot be done right now, and what can wait. Next, prioritize your efforts as discussed earlier. If you are overwhelmed with a project, break it into smaller tasks and absolutely do not be afraid to ask for help. That being said, if someone asks you for help, don’t discourage and turn them away. We can grow more from teaching others. If your workspace is cluttered, attempt to de-clutter by filing away or going paperless. A clean workspace reduces stress. Steer away from perfection and instead, aim for excellence by seeking the 80/20 rule. Again, understand both you and your organizations long-term goals. Find your focus time, this a certain time of the day where we are most productive, and it varies from person to person. Finally, reward yourself for accomplishments. If you reach a planned goal, treat yourself to something special. For example, every time I finished a college course with an A, I would treat myself to a steak dinner, a nice beverage, and a dessert.