One in five people are “chronic procrastinators” – and the rest of us aren’t much better. Putting things off until later is a common feature of many people’s daily lives – in fact we are rather good at procrastination. It’s all down to parenting styles and education systems.
Over-controlling parents and education systems that are too prescriptive mean that children never learn very well how to do things for themselves and how to plan their time. The result is we end up putting things off because “someone else” will take care of it. We learn to do that from a very young age and we then spend the rest of our life trying to cope.
For anyone running a business on the Internet procrastination is a real issue. If you put off that new web site, or hold onto that idea for too long, before you know it someone else will have done it and you will have missed the boat. The speed of online development means that procrastionation is not an option. You have to do it “now”.
Over the past few years I have noticed several business owners putting things off; indeed it almost seems a national past-time. People know they need to blog – but “just don’t get round to it”. Or they know they should be social networking – but “just can’t decide which network to use”. Or they know they should be splitting their web site up into market specific offerings – but “just can’t find the right designer”. Excuses..!
Ask yourself the following questions:
- Do you ever put things off until the next day because you are sure you will feel more motivated and in a better position to do them “tomorrow”?
- Do you get annoyed by people who tell you that you need a better time management system or who give you lots of tips for improving your use of programs like Microsoft Outlook?
- Do you easily get distracted, perhaps “having” to answer emails or check in to your social networking site?
Actually, answer “yes” to any one of these questions and you are probably a procrastinator. And that means you are seriously affecting your chances of online success.
More information on procrastionation can be found at Psychology Today magazine. As you’ll see, for serious procrastinators treatment in the form of Cognitive Behavioural Therapy may be needed. For the rest of us a method of motivation may be necessary – for instance you could allocate a “fee” to each item you put off – how much would you lose by not doing something? Or how much would you gain?
I know several people who have come to my talks on blogging over the past few years and who all said they would set up a blog – and haven’t quite got round to it. They have lost traffic, search engine benefits, reputation and cold, hard cash. With the economy on the downward slope, don’t let yourself fall into the same category; no longer put anything off – well not until after that coffee, and answering that email, and checking the footie results, and looking at your banking shares and…….
Graham Jones is an Internet Psychologist who studies the way people use the online world, in particular how people engage with businesses. He uses this knowledge to help companies improve their online connections to their customers and potential customers and offers consultancy, workshops, masterclasses and webinars. He also speaks regularly at conferences and business events. Graham is an award-winning writer and the author of 32 books, several of which are about various aspects of the Internet. For more information connect with me on Google+