Procrastinate Much?

PROCRASTINATE-MUCH-MARSHALL-ATKINSON

I’ve been meaning to write an article about procrastination for some time now.  Don’t laugh.

Seriously.

Somehow, I just keep putting it off.  (Ba Da Bump)  Other topics come up that mean more, or maybe I think they are more relevant to the industry.  Things happen.

Now here we are months later and I’m just now getting some words down.  As I’m in the same boat as the rest of the procrastinators out there, maybe that makes me some sort of half-assed expert or tribal salesman at least.  I don’t know.  They don’t give out awards for being late usually.  But in this particular case there wasn’t even a deadline.  Just something I wanted to do.

I’m sure you know the drill.

So let’s examine that a bit more, and take a look at how this can affect anyone working in the decorated apparel industry.  Over the years I’ve spoken with hundreds, maybe even thousands, of shop owners, managers, employees and folks in the supply chain about the challenges in the industry.  Other than the overwhelming problem of communication (or lack thereof) in shops, the next biggest challenge is always “getting stuff done”.  There never seems to be the right amount of time.  Or dedication.  Or willpower.  Or whatever excuse is handy.

Guess what?  It’s procrastination at it’s best usually.

That’s why you didn’t learn how to sewn applique, or try out waterbase ink, or learn simulated process, or tackle CMYK, or learn how to make screens with capillary film.  Maybe you wanted to start a blog, or develop a Pinterest board for your shop, or rewrite your employee handbook, or maybe even just take a vacation.  (Really?  If that’s you…get on a plane now will ya’!)

Believe me you aren’t alone.  If there was a club I’ll bet it would be gigantically huge.  We couldn’t have a meeting though.  Nobody would find time to organize it or even come for that matter.

So what happens to us?  First, we don’t give our thought or desire the priority it should have.  If I truly wanted this article written, I would have added it to my to-do list months ago.  Anything on that list always gets handled.   Instead, it was one of those back of my mind things.  It just never developed.

Here are a few reasons I’ve discovered that people don’t do things and procrastinate, do any of these sound like you?:

  • You don’t start on the task because you are wanting the “perfect” time do it.  On a Saturday.  When the busy season is over.  When Fred gets back from vacation.  When you close that big deal and get more cash.  Next month when all of the planets align.  Guess what?  There is no such thing as a perfect time!  Stop kidding yourself.  Schedule the thing and just do it.  At least get started on it.
  • Don’t give in on acting on urges.  When we act impulsively we tend to blow off things that matter and we don’t know why.  Who wants to rewrite an employee handbook when checking out cat memes on Facebook is more fun?  Clean the shop?  Let’s go home early instead!  It’s Friday and it’s been a long week.  Then you look back sometime the following week and wonder how come nothing got handled…you know better!  Raise your hand if this sound like you.  I knew it.
  • You always leave things to the last minute because you “work better that way”.  But if you ever just looked at your results and logged how much time you spent goofing off before you got around to starting on the project, you would realize that you could actually be more productive, be less stressed, and produce better work if you had just followed a more sane schedule.  Buzzing about being busy and how in the weeds you are seems to be a badge of honor with some people.  However, I’ll take the person that manages their time, logs great work daily and goes home at the same time every day, every time.  They are usually more productive.
  • Another obvious procrastinator sign is to get crankier and moodier the closer the deadline approaches.  I’ve worked with people like this, and it’s no fun.  They have a freak-out and nuclear meltdown with a “the world is going to end” attitude that is hard to swallow.  The funny thing is that they never see it.  When you talk to them about it, somehow they twist it up so you are the bad guy.  Once that deadline passes and the work is completed, they are as sweet as pumpkin pie.  But you know better.

I’m sure there are plenty more examples I can add.  Feel free to throw yours into the comments section.

So what can we do about procrastination?  Are we just doomed to a roller coaster ride of action, inaction, worry and self-doubt?  Here are some thoughts:

Stop worrying about perfection.  Just get started.  Even doing something small for fifteen minutes can help give you the momentum to act.  Let’s say you’ve been putting off cleaning your shop.  Just organize that one section over there by the corner.  Looks good?  Do the area next to it tomorrow.  

Write down what you want to do and assign a date to it.  To make it even better add a time and make it an appointment.  “At 11:00 tomorrow I am going to write a blog post about procrastination.”  Which actually is exactly what happened here.  Yes, I did schedule a procrastination task.  

Remind yourself and your staff that finishing the task now, can help you in the future.  Why do you have to experiment with silicone inks if none of your clients require it for their orders?  Because maybe your next quote or new client could ask about it.  Getting prepared is the sign of professionalism.  Learn that new topic now when there isn’t a deadline and stress associated with perfection.

Reward yourself or your crew for completing projects or even sub-goals for longer programs.  This doesn’t have to be monetary or a physical reward.  Maybe just an extra ten minutes at break, or an ice cream party on a Friday.  Maybe the person who contributes the most gets to blast their playlist on the shop music system all day.

Realize when you are putting things off you could be trading one thing for another that seems like it’s making a difference.  However, it’s not getting you to where you need to be.  Instead of preventative maintenance on our equipment, you organize the customer pick up area instead.  Both have to get done, but you are trading one outcome at the cost of another.  If you were to give each an importance rank, which one would win out?  Try triaging your tasks, and do the ones that matter the most first.  

So there you have it.  I feel better now that I completed this article!  I got to cross that item off my to-do list too.  

Got something you need handled?  What are you waiting for?  Now seems like a good time…

“Action speaks louder than words, but not nearly as often.” – Mark Twain

“Get action.  Seize the moment.  Man was never intended to be an oyster.” – Theodore Roosevelt

“Your attitude, not your aptitude, will determine your altitude.” – Zig Ziglar

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