When faced with an unpleasant or daunting task, either in personal or professional activities, many people can be tempted to procrastinate. Some procrastination takes the form of dismissing the unpleasant task as something to be done later and then putting it out of mind. At other times, procrastination occurs by wasting one’s time with meaningless pursuits, games and amusements. To complicate matters, not every form of procrastination can be easily dismissed as purely wasted time. For business people and office workers who handle a variety of related tasks every day, certain types of work can actually function as a tool for procrastination. In some cases, tasks that are smaller, simpler, or that might easily be delegated to an intern are used as a diversion from important, complicated, intimidating tasks.
Implications For Time-Management and Prioritizing Skills
In order to work effectively, people need the ability to budget their time. In the typical professional environment, people are given more work than they can realistically handle within normal working hours. Even people with a reasonable workload could improve their business prospects by taking on additional tasks or taking time to make aspects of their work more efficient. For all of these reasons, it is extremely important to be able to manage one’s time successfully. Efficient time management involves the power to weigh the amount of time available versus the tasks that need to be carried out and to choose on a schedule for completing the tasks. Unfortunately, procrastination interferes with the ability to budget time by inflating the amount of time needed to reach a certain milestone or level of completion. For this reason, repeated procrastination can be seen as a sign that an individual lacks the ability to set his or her own time management goals or lacks the discipline to adhere to those goals.
In situations where multitasking is required, procrastination could also be a sign of failure to properly organize priorities. Allowing trivial tasks to take time and energy away from more important goals indicates either an inability to recognize the most important tasks or a lack of concern about whether the most important goals are accomplished in a timely fashion. However, a failure to prioritize might not be entirely the procrastinator’s fault. An employee who does not have enough information to form an overall picture of his or her employer’s goals might not have the perspective to prioritize effectively and might therefore end up wasting time on trivial goals believing that they are important.
It should be remembered that, while occasional procrastination might signal some sort of underlying problem, it is not necessarily a sign of a character flaw or skill deficit. For example, a lack of motivation due to a real or perceived shortcoming in the reward for good time management could be at the root of procrastination. One example of this might be a work environment in which an employee receives the same compensation regardless of whether his or her deadlines are met. This could result from a poor performer realizing that procrastination is routinely tolerated, but it could also result from a high performer perceiving that outstanding time management is never rewarded. In a work environment, instances of procrastination can reveal overall communication and employee relations issues as well as the underlying issues of individual employees.