Jun 1 / Helen Bryant

Are You Procrasti-working?

I heard the phrase 'Procrasti-working' on a podcast the other day and thought it perfectly encapsulated many managers' challenges. 
You know you need to spend more time thinking strategically or maybe address a deep-rooted issue. You know this high-value thinking would make the biggest difference to your team and your results, but somehow you never find the time to get to it. 
Now you are not sitting around twiddling your thumbs, far from it. 
You are working hard. You are busy with your team, busy with your email, and busy solving a short-term issue that has arisen. Somehow, that important piece of work doesn’t get done.
The problem is if you don’t think about it, who else will? 
The best leaders are always thinking ahead. They look for ways to address that opportunity or how to unblock that ‘thing’ that is holding their team back, and they create plans to get ahead. 
So let’s work out what to do to get out of this cycle.

A lack of clarity is holding you back.

If this is familiar to you, there are a couple of reasons that it may be happening.
- Feeling overwhelmed or anxious about a task: A task can seem too big or complex, and we can feel overwhelmed and unsure of where to start. So we put it off.
- You don’t plan or schedule the time to think and plan: If you don't manage your time effectively, you may find yourself with too much to do and not enough time to do it. If you haven't prioritised that time, it will remain either an ad-hoc activity or put off in favour of short-term activities.
- Distractions, such as email: You are constantly bombarded with distractions in today's world. These distractions can make it difficult to focus on the task at hand and can lead to procrastination.
- Fear of failure or making mistakes: Sometimes, we procrastinate because we are afraid of failing or making mistakes. This fear can be paralysing and can prevent us from even starting a task.

5 Tips to Break the Procrasti-working Cycle

1. Schedule time to plan and give yourself a deadline. Getting time in the diary that you protect will give you time to think and plan. Even if it doesn't have a hard deadline, creating one for yourself can help you stay on track. Setting deadlines can also help you prioritise your work and ensure that you're making progress.
Thinking time you should have in your diary as a must is:
    - Quarterly Planning
    - Monthly Planning
    - Weekly Planning
These are perfect backstops that mean you will always have some thinking and planning time.
You can also schedule issue-specific time - for example, block off 30 minutes or an hour to focus on a topic, it will give you time to think in the round. You need to prioritise and protect the time you schedule.
2. Set specific, achievable goals for your strategic opportunities: Setting clear, realistic goals can help you stay motivated and focused.

Turn that vague idea of solving a challenge into a specific goal. Describe the outcome you want.
3. Break tasks into smaller steps: When tasks seem overwhelming, breaking them into smaller, more manageable steps can make them feel less daunting. 
For example, 
 - Create a high-level plan you can share with stakeholders for feedback to see if this idea is a go-er.
 - Establish the root causes of the issue, so you understand it and can explain it better to others.
 - Involve your team in solving the problem.
 - Brainstorm options of how you could address it.
4. Eliminate distractions: Identify the things that distract you from high-value work and help you get sucked into busy but lower-value work.
Such as -
 - Jumping too quickly into problems your team brings you: Try asking what they think they should do. Can they solve it without you?
 - Spending too much time on email: Try turning off notifications or using an app to block distracting websites. Schedule a specific time in your diary to do emails.
5. Reward yourself: When you complete a task or reach a goal, take some time to reward yourself. This can be as simple as taking a short break or treating yourself to something you enjoy. This can help you stay motivated and make work feel more enjoyable.

What next?

If you're struggling with procrasti-working, remember that you're not alone. 
By getting this right, you can break the cycle and start making progress on the tasks that matter most. 

Action Step: Schedule some thinking time in your diary and pick a high-value challenge to tackle. Your team and your results will thank you for it.

Discover how 10 minutes a week can step change your leadership impact.

Write your awesome label here.

Subscribe to My Leadership Accelerator Newsletter

Get 1 high-impact leadership lesson every Friday.  Advice, actionable lessons and tips for ambitious managers on how to reclaim your time and lead a high-performing team. 
    We value your privacy. You can unsubscribe at any time.
    Created with