Ah, the procrastinator’s dilemma. We all have tasks that we dread doing.
That could be as simple as making your bed to filing your tax return.
Shall I sleep on it or I will get to it tomorrow is said everyday throughout millions of business every single day. Mostly by the employees, but many owners are guilty of this was well. Why do we procrastinate and what can we do to motivate those to do the difficult tasks first?
One way to motivate your employees (or yourself) is to assign a subjective value to the task relative to the price of thinking about it all night. When you complete that daunting task, it is a great feeling of relief and accomplishment. William James once said, “Nothing is so fatiguing as the eternal hanging of an uncompleted task”. You could think about how miserable the task will be or you can attack it and get it done.
In 1989, George Loewenstein and Richard H. Thaler penned an article for the Journal of Economic Perspectives around the idea of delay discounting. Basically, people are willing to accept less now than wait for a larger gain. In today’s terms, think about that $20 item from Amazon that you are willing to pay $17 in shipping to get it on Monday rather than free shipping that will get it there on Wednesday. Delay discounting is a component of procrastination that is relative to the length of time before the deadline and the reward. Further away the deadline, less important it is or less attractive the reward or satisfaction of getting it done. I think I mastered in this subject in high school and book reports.
People like to feel rewarded, so they tend to work on the easier tasks first. There is a sense of accomplishment when things are checked off the list.
So, how do you motivate those employees or yourself to focus on the major items? Well, push the small items to someone else. Try to devoid yourself of the “daily minutia” to less experienced staff and train them. Place a value on the items you need to get done and get the high value items done first. Think to yourself, what would happen if I didn’t get ABC done today versus how much better and productive I would be if I got XYZ done?
When you strip out the easy tasks, all is left are the important ones and you can focus on the XYZ tasks. Associate those difficult with your own identity. People are motivated by a positive self identity and the more aligned they are with their tasks, the more efficient and effectively they will be done.
OTHERWISE, YOU CAN ALWAYS HIRE A CONSULTANT TO HELP YOU OUT WITH
THOSE TASKS NO ONE WANTS TO DO!
If you would like more information on how we can help streamline your day to day operations, please contact us at: firstname.lastname@example.org.