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As I sit here in the OB waiting room waiting for my third grandchild to be born (my only daughter’s first baby) I can’t help but think about the importance of being prepared. She isn’t due for another nineteen days but baby Mia has other plans. I feel so blessed that I have been at the birth of all of my grandchildren so far, and they have all been born healthy and happy! However, as with my last two grandchildren I have procrastinated on finishing up this week’s homework assignments for my EMBA degree, and so I find myself once again with my laptop in the waiting room frantically trying to get all of my assignments completed. Sigh. Some of us learn the hard way, and some of us never learn at all! I am determined to not let this happen again and so I have begun researching ways to stop procrastinating! I know that I am not the only one with this issue so I would love to share what I have learned so far.

The New York Times reported that procrastination has nothing to do with laziness (that’s reassuring!) but it is a form of self-harm (not so reassuring!). In fact, procrastination is an irrational act. It is a conscious decision to NOT do something even against your better judgement. I always attributed procrastination to poor time management and/or sheer laziness. I only struggle with procrastination in my private life. In my professional life I am on top of things, I never (well almost never) put off tasks and am usually ahead in the game, and have a hard time sympathizing with co-workers and/or bosses who procrastinate at work.

This has not served me well in the recent past. My current boss is a big procrastinator. Even worse, she waits so long to even start a project that she is incapable of finishing it herself and so many of them get delegated at the last minute to me. I had a conversation with her at the close of this school year and expressed my frustrations and concerns with her procrastination and what effect it has on me and the rest of the team. She was very much taken aback and her feelings were hurt. I couldn’t understand her inability to see how her inaction was negatively affecting the team, and I couldn’t understand why her feelings would be hurt.

The NY Times article stated that “Procrastination is an emotion regulation problem, not a time management problem”. People avoid tasks that bring forth a negative emotion (boredom, insecurity, frustration, etc.). Looking at procrastination from this perspective will (hopefully) allow me to be more empathetic. That isn’t to say that I will accept blatant procrastination that affects my ability to do my job, but it will allow me to try and help her to work through the negative emotion associated with the task so that she can begin to reduce her procrastination tendencies.

Wish me luck!

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