Procrastinators and Planners Unite For a Better Work Experience

I’m a procrastinator, through and through. My most significant feat as such was as an undergraduate student, when I went to the library at 6:00 pm to start research on a paper. But, I turned it in at 9:00 am the next morning and got an A—gold star for procrastinators everywhere. 

For many employees, procrastination delivers results and they see no need to change their ways. Planners have different management styles as leaders, and as employees, planners have different work ethics. As students, this group of individuals would have written this same paper in a different fashion, dutifully dedicating a little time every day to chip away at the assignment. At work, these are the employees with daily to-do lists and highly organized calendars. For them, this works. 

Most People Will Tell You Not to Procrastinate

However, as an inveterate procrastinator, I can tell you that there have been so many tasks I avoided altogether because the need for the assignment simply went away before the deadline. Consider this scenario:

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4 thoughts on “Procrastinators and Planners Unite For a Better Work Experience

  1. I recognize myself so much in this post–both as the employee and the manager. I’m definitely a procrastinator. I’ve tried so hard to change this over the years, but as an employee I find I work much better under a looming deadline and historically it hasn’t hurt me at all. As you say, sometimes that project or report just goes away as the deadline approaches. As a manager, I find myself procrastinating on reviewing certain work sent over to me for review. This is where I feel I need to improve, as it’s not fair to my direct reports who are waiting for feedback.

  2. I’ve found that “procrastinators” really have different priorities. My wife and I argued about this a lot early in our relationship. She prioritized certain household chores, I prioritized others. She would become upset when I didn’t do chores on her schedule, complaining that I was lazy and not helping out around the house–often while I was doing housework. You can imagine how that went. At work this happens when I’m working for multiple managers (joys of matrix management). Each manager thinks their project is the absolute most important; I need to decide what really IS most important. Usually, I prioritize the manager in my office demanding I complete his/her task, but sometimes I prioritize work I can do (if I get a migraine I’m not doing something that requires intense thought, for example).

    One thing I’ve found helpful: Give internal deadlines earlier than the final deadline. For example, you can say “I want the data analysis portion of this done by January 23, so that our design team can start their work”. I don’t care if you start today or Jan 22; what I care about is that it’s done by Jan 23, so the next team can get started. And I can let my team know why it’s important if they have any questions, so they can prioritize things. It also helps give a buffer. If the schedule slips a few days, the client never knows.

  3. For me, procrastinating is *how* I plan. To take your example, the actual process of writing the paper, typing letters into a keyboard, is maybe 1% of the total time it takes. The research is, in my experience, maybe 25%, of and often less. The rest is figuring out how to approach the research, and how to approach presenting the results, a process that happens entirely inside one’s head. The longer I think about it, the more efficient I’ll be when I actually sit down to do it.

    “Your manager is your manager”

    Or, to quote “Bridge of Spies,”:

    “The boss isn’t always right, but he is always the boss.”

  4. While in high school, my daughter bragged about leaving a project until the night before to work on, when she knew about it three weeks before. She got an “A.”

    I advised her that, in the future, she might get the flu the day before the due date and would have nothing to turn in.

    Also, nowadays, your computer could crash the night before. Wouldn’t it be better to work on a project little by little, and print out a draft? That way, when your computer crashes, you can show your boss or teacher that you had most of it done by the due date.

    I am mostly a planner, but sometimes I procrastinate a little.

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