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Is Procrastination Killing Your Business?

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Commentary by Stuart R. Crawford

RISMEDIA, Jan. 5, 2008-Are you in the habit of putting things off? Saying to yourself that you will eventually get around to completing a task or are you the type to just get things done no matter what the task that needs to be done is? Unfortunately an alarming number of small business owners are not the type to get things done without coming up with some excuse why they need to procrastinate on critical items in their business or simply taking care of a client.

They are the types that simply delay items until a deadline rapidly approaches, a client needs something now urgently which wasn’t urgent at the time they were originally informed them and sometimes they use every creative excuse in the book for not doing something immediately, you know some of the responses “I have no time right now,” “It is not that important” or “leave it on my desk and I will get to it”.

There is a big difference between procrastination and deferring items until you have some additional information in order to make an informed decision.

What happens when you procrastinate?

The first thing that comes to mind is an increased level of stress. Perhaps you are the type that takes on every task that is presented to you and maybe you even provide your clients with unachievable deadlines. Stress is something that all procrastinators possess. Their stress levels rise because eventually the tasks that they committed to working on catch up with them and the deadline rapidly comes due. This is why I choose to work earlier in the morning rather than late into the evening. I personally find in the evening hours when I do office tasks it is usually catch up type work, and the morning hours are used for tasks that allow me to be proactive, resulting in achieving my goals or even impressing my clients. This is what I call the Morning Factor; I published an article on this topic a few years back.

When procrastination catches up with you, you can exhibit feelings over being overwhelmed, not knowing where to turn, tasks that have been piling up are now coming due and you can no longer deal with them one at a time, you may try to multi-task which can lead to you not achieving anything properly. E-mails are coming in from clients wondering if the expectations that you provided have been met or if they will ever be completed. Maybe your phone is even ringing off the wall with people wondering what is going on with the projects or jobs you have on your plate. Being overwhelmed because of procrastination is somewhere that you do not want to have happen in your small business. This repetitive behavior may speed up the rate that your ship is sinking, and lead you to feelings of burnout or even deciding just to dump the business and walk away from it.

When all this happens many entrepreneurs start to show a sign of loss of confidence, their self esteem starts to shrink, their health may start to deteriorate, and things on the home front become tense adding to the overall stress of all the other items happening in the business. Eventually, you hit the wall and you may just hang up skates for the last time and your business suffers all because procrastination got the better of you and your business.

However, there are ways to dig yourself out of this or even prevent you and your business from entering procrastination nation.

Take Action Now - by taking immediate action on tasks or events instead of saying to yourself that I can do this later will aid in preventing procrastination from taking control of your life.

Learn to say No - This is a tough one for many entrepreneurs. They all want to say YES and keep piling things onto their plate and setting unrealistic expectations. Take on jobs and responsibilities that you can effectively take care of or even that you want to tackle.

Practice the 4 D’s - These are critical to your success in small business

Do It – As we mentioned in take action now, just do it, get it done and don’t dwell on it. Anything worth doing is worth doing correctly and with a sense of urgency.

Delegate it – If it is a task that someone else can do, and then have someone else do it. There are people in this world that like to do things that you may not like, seek these folks out and have them take over the tasks in your business that you do not like to do. This doesn’t mean forget about it, you still need to keep your finger on the pulse.

Dump it – If it is something that is not worth doing, and then get rid of it. Many times business owners continue to do tasks that do not serve their business or livelihood well.

Defer it – Now, before you say “isn’t this procrastination?” No it is not. There are items in your business that you need to defer, to give you adequate time to make a sound business decision or to gather more information.

Execute, Execute, Execute – This comes back to taking action, it is great to talk a good story and say you do things in your business or personal life, however, true measurement is in the execution and demonstrating results based on your execution. It is important for you to do things in life to dig yourself out of the grasp of procrastination. Achieve goals and rebuild your confidence.

Procrastination will kill your business and your own personal growth if you don’t take decisive action and prevent procrastination from ruling your life and adding additional stress into the life that you are trying to achieve. Procrastination will lessen your sense of fulfillment in the work or services that you provide leading to you questioning your own self worth.

Stuart Crawford is the Director of Business Development for IT Matters Inc., Calgary, Alberta’s award winning Microsoft Small Business Specialist. He can be reached at scrawford@itmatters.ca or via http://www.itmatters.ca.

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