JEFFREY TOBIN: Living for last minute
To My Dear Productive Friends:
I have a confession to make. I am a procrastinator. There. I said it. I am a procrastinator and I relish in my procrastination. I love to waste time chasing my “shiny objects” of interest across the Internet. I welcome knocks at the door and fires I can help put out. Perhaps you, too, find joy in discovery, in distractions, in interruptions and “busy work.” Maybe you also live for the last minute. If so, embrace your inner self!
I’ve coined a term to describe this practice. It defines the action of trading the important for the immediately satisfying. I call it “instant gratifi-crastination.”
And it is so satisfying!
To those of you who rail against we procrastinators, I say … well … I want to say something disparaging about you and your kind … later.
But right now, here’s something I’d like you “productive people” to understand about us. Don’t disparage our procrastination out of hand. We procrastinators often do our best work under the stress of short time frames. We can be brilliant improvisers. We are often at our creative best when the alarm bell of zero-hour sounds.
Last-minute intensity can even create an environment of staff productivity you may never know. A sense of real urgency — even healthy fear — on our part can be a bonding agent among employees that will knock productive people on their productive butts.
Still, there is a dangerous dark side to instant gratifi-crastination. The dark side is when we count on our creative bursts of adrenaline to save the day every time. The rush of stress-induced endorphins doesn’t always make up for a lack of preparation. Cramming for a test. Not having made those sales calls. Reliance on someone who simply cannot meet our urgent needs.
For those of you who manage procrastinators, here’s how to survive:
• Consider their historical performance. If they’ve performed in the past, they’ll perform now
• Spend less time worrying about how procrastinators get things done
• Focus on if things are getting done, and how well
• Close your eyes to the process and the messy desk
• Always consider the needs of other team members
• Give them the time they need to suit their own processes
• Communicate regularly with your team so they can trust your process
If you know of someone who is into instant gratifi-crastination, he or she was probably born that way. If they’re meeting goals and moving forward, help them embrace it. And you should, too.
Those of us who are perpetual procrastinators appreciate those who live by paperwork and processes. We ask only that you return the favor. Surely we can all just get along.