“I have time. I don’t need to write my speech yet. It’s still three weeks away.” I said to myself.
(next week) “I’m really good at public speaking and I know this material, I don’t need to start yet.” I deceived myself once again.
(the week before the speech) “I should probably start on this now but I really feel good about this, I’m not worrying about the speech at all. I’ve done this numerous times and I don’t need to write it yet.” I said to myself once more, this time with the pressure of my guilt coming up to my throat.
(a few days before) “I just started writing this and holy crap I really don’t have as much to talk about as I thought. I’m scrabbling now, ahh! I need someone to help guide me with this.” I finally came to the realization that I didn’t know enough, had to really push through it and was nervously writing it all down and practicing just a day or two before the speech.
Have you ever done this? Put off work you know you had to do until the last minute? Of course, we all have been there.
This happened to me on one of my earlier speeches I did and it was then I realized that I needed to give myself more time for preparation when writing a speech. I thankfully had some help with it and it turned out fantastic but I still won’t ever forget the nervousness I felt days leading up to it from a feeling of not being ready.
If this has ever been an issue for you, as I’m sure it has at least a few times, it’s because there are some underlying reasons why you procrastinated.
In this article we are going to look at just one reason why you may be procrastinating and what to do about it. However, this is not the only reason you may be procrastinating but it is a very common one.
Lack of clarity
One reason you may be procrastinating is because there is a lack of clarity with the next action you need to take. Right?
It is unclear what your next step is so you just don’t do it and say, “I don’t know what to do so I just won’t start.”
It’s ok, this has happened to everyone. I know this happened with me when I was writing my speech (from the earlier example).
However, that is not a valid excuse to not start. If you are a person who is a ‘do whatever it takes’ then you know that is unacceptable.
But why do we do it then?
You don’t choose to push it off but you have so much more going on in your day that the tasks that are unclear or you don’t know what to do next are the ones that get pushed out. It’s easier to tackle what you know how to do and can do really well. You feel better about yourself for accomplishing that task you know you can do and you get more things done.
That’s all good and well but sometimes those tasks that are unclear still need to get done!
So what do you do then?
You have a few options but to narrow it down to just two, you can:
- Learn what’s needed to be done
- Ask for help or clarification
“Learning is experience. Everything else is just information.” – Albert Einstein
There is a lack of clarity on what needs to be done next, yes? Well to clear it out you may need to learn what to do next.
When I first began my business I had no clue about building a website, legally starting a business, getting a logo, optin boxes, taxes and SO MUCH more!
But you know what I did? Yup, I learned how. I actually have paid thousands to learn how, not from traditional school although I have done that too, from gurus like Tony Robbins, where I got certified for life coaching, Brendon Burchard who taught me how to do the business side of it and Robert Kiyosaki who first taught me about having your money work for you.
While those are huge projects to take on each time I have still learned how to do all of them. For simplicity, we’ll say something you are procrastinating on may be a lot less complicated.
For example, if you are a sales professional for a large company it could be something like getting a weird order into the system that is a bit out of the ordinary. You have done a lot of orders but this one is a bit different and you must then LEARN what to do to get it into the system or else you don’t get that sale, essentially!
You procrastinate on it because you don’t know what to do. Because you haven’t LEARNED what to do. It may not take you long to learn it but you still have to learn it and there’s so much more to do so you put it off. But if you just took a few minutes to learn it then you could quickly and easily get it into the system.
I’m not blaming you for putting it off. Like I said, we’ve all been there. I’ve been there, when I was at a large company I too put those tasks off when I didn’t know what to do. The systems were horrible and getting anything going was a nightmare. But I just had to learn how to do it each and every time. But you know what? After each piece I learned, I could then do it again that much quicker next time with almost no procrastination because I’d done it before.
So take responsibility to learn what needs to be done. You can do this usually by doing a little research into company policy and procedures. Large companies usually have all kinds of resources for steps to get things done. Yes I know they may not be the most accurate or easy to find but if you want to step it up and take that responsibility then it may take you to get a little dirty in the procedures resources.
#2 Ask for help or clarification
If what you have to do is not something specific that needs to be learned but more towards someone who has not clarified what to do then you must seek help or talk to the ‘source.’
The source is the person who is ultimately responsible for that action to get done or the one who assigned it to you.
This is someone like your boss, the colleague who put the work on you, the customer who requested it or another individual who assigned it to you.
Go to the source, the person responsible, and directly ask them to clarify if it is unclear what the next action is.
Now, if it is someone like your boss then you can’t really be running back to him or her every time that person gives you a task that is unclear. That defeats the purpose of delegating and you’ll lose trust from your boss that you can’t handle tasks he or she gives you.
So instead of going to the boss for clarification, go to a trusted colleague or mentor that can point you in the right direction.
This is where you ask for help instead of just clarification. You ask for help because this person has more experience than you, if you picked the right person, and they may not need as much clarification as you do to complete the task because they have been there before and know exactly what to do.
When I worked at a large company I had a few go to people that I could ask for help. They were usually people in the same position as me who has more experience. I would find several people that could help me and go to different people so I didn’t annoy the same person. I always was sure to give back and keep a good relationship with those people so I wasn’t always just taking from them. That is key to your trusted adviser that will be helping you, to have a good relationship and be giving back in some way.
“He who is afraid of asking is ashamed of learning.” – Danish Proverb
- If unclear, then learn what needs to be done by researching through the resources your company has or do your own digging online
- OR Get clarification from the person responsible by going to them
- If it is your boss or other person who is too busy to get back to you then seek out trusted friend/adviser for help
Have a good rest of the week and leave a comment below about an experience you had about a lack of clarity and how you solved it!