Procrastination is a common issue that I encounter when working with solopreneurs and people running small businesses. Procrastination can be defined as “putting off a pending task because of laziness, lack of interest” or different prioritization about what should be done. Without a precise and well defined mechanism of accountability we choose tasks we like and keep delaying the ones we like less, and this can become a dangerous habit. The effects of procrastination on many of my clients to date was initially to affect their performance at work then, increasingly, it was producing stress and other related diseases that eventually affected the physical health of some of them.
When clients are complaining to me about how procrastination is affecting their performance and ultimately their well being I am some times attempted to tell them to just get on with the pending tasks they are procrastinating. That would be logical and easy but then, as a coach, I must (and I do) use a questioning methodology that is helping the clients’ thinking process and it helps them to see a way forward and commit toward the necessary actions.
Here are some of the questions that I use in these situations:
- Is the completion of this pending task affecting other activities?
- How often do you think about this pending task?
- Is the completion of this pending task affecting other people?
- How would you feel if you could tick this pending task off your list?
- Do you feel guilty when you think about this pending task?
- Is something stopping you from completing this pending task?
- How much time per day/week do you spend thinking about this pending task?
- Would you behave differently if you promised to complete this pending task to a colleague, client or supplier?
- How can I help your thinking toward the best outcome for you?
The questions above are not in random order: there is no logical priority in using one before the other and I never needed to use more than 2 or 3 of them to move the client toward a commitment of completion by the following session. I would usually choose the questions following the content of the conversation that led to the procrastination topic.
Next time you are procrastinating try reading the above questions and see whether they can help you complete your pending task(s) by tackling procrastination head on.