The Plight of the Task Delayer

By Paige Wilcox

keeping teams focused and aligned

dateWed, Feb 20, 2019 @ 11:00 AM

Do you put off minor to-dos until they build up and become absolutely urgent? Why do we do this tokeeping teams focused and aligned ourselves, and how can we procrastinators break our vicious cycles?

Writer Amanda Mull addressed this very topic in an article in The Atlantic called, "Why People Wait 10 Days to Do Something That Takes 10 Minutes." She cited that many of us fall into a "task delayer" category (as opposed to a "chronic procrastinator," which is described as a more intense but rarer type, thankfully).

One variable that may be rooted in some task delayers' behavior could be "decision fatigue." The theory is that if you're regularly exerting your brain with a high volume of decision-making, you eventually get burned out and lose some self-control in completing your tasks.

Low self-esteem as a result of failing to face and complete these tasks can paralyze us even further. Joseph Ferrari, a DePaul University psychology professor, has researched this issue and says, "A big problem people have is they attack themselves and not their behaviors."

Mull goes on to write:

If task delayers can depersonalize their aversion to, say, vacuuming or litter-box changing, [Ferrari] believes, they stand a better chance at being able to evaluate it rationally, avoiding the shame cycle that can calcify negative behaviors into bad habits.

So gaining some objective perspective can help us recognize the behavior and course-correct. It also sounds like if we don't expect ourselves to get something done, that will likely become a self-fulfilling prophecy.

Some gentle reminders for my fellow task delayers are that it's best to:

  1. Break up tasks into achievable steps
  2. Refrain from setting low expectations for ourselves
  3. Not get sucked into the shame spiral if we fall short

Need some more tangible help in getting yourself and other task delayers on your team to stay focused, aligned, accountable and on track? See how our Rhythm software works and request a custom demo here

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Here are some additional resources to help you and your teams stay aligned, focused and accountable:

Take Our Team Accountability Assessment 

Team Accountability Begins with Personal Accountability

Building Team Accountability: Job Scorecards

10 Signs of an Accountable Culture [Infographic]

Growing Team Accountability in Your Organization

Quick Tips for Building Accountability

Photo Credit: iStock by Getty Images

Paige Wilcox


Photo Credit: iStock by Getty Images