I’ve been meaning to write an article that focuses on procrastination for some time now.
Seriously! Don’t laugh.
Somehow, I just keep putting it off. Other topics come up that may be a little more relevant to the industry. Things happen. (Ba Da Bump)
Now months later, I’m just now getting some words down. I’m in the same boat as the rest of you procrastinators out there. Maybe that makes me an expert or at least the tribal salesman at best. I don’t now. They don’t confer titles or awards to people that are late usually.
So how does procrastination affect the decorated apparel industry? Over the years I’ve spoken to thousands of people in the industry. Owners. Shop managers. The good folks in the supply chain. The number one challenge that everyone struggles with is always “communication”.
But the steady number two answer is always “getting stuff done”. I’m sure you can relate.
There never seems to be the right amount of time. Or dedication. Or willpower. Or whatever excuse is handy.
How much of that can be chalked up to putting things off? Probably a lot. I don’t think anyone has ever gotten around to doing a serious study with us as a group.
Why is this such a problem anyway?
It is the reason you didn’t learn to use water based ink, or simulated process, or tackle CMYK, or play around with discharge. It’s why the uses for capillary film aren’t in your immediate vocabulary. Maybe you wanted to start a shop blog, or develop a Pinterest board, or update your employee handbook. It could be that you just simply need a vacation. (if that’s you, book your plane ticket today)
You aren’t alone. If there was a club for procrastinators I’ll bet it would be huge. We couldn’t have a meeting though. Nobody would find the time to organize it or even come for that matter.
So why do good people put things off? Here’s a quick list. Does this sound like you?
● You don’t start that new project because you are waiting until the “perfect” time to get started. On a Saturday. When the busy season is over. When Fred gets back from vacation. When that big job is finished and you get more cash. Guess what? The “perfect” time for anything is just an illusion! Stop kidding yourself. Schedule the thing and just do it. At least get started on it.
● People are impulsive. We tend to act on urges and we don’t even know why. Instead of updating the employee handbook you watched that funny cat video where they are scared of cucumbers. Clean the shop? Let’s go home early instead! It’s Friday and it’s been a long week. Does this sound like you? C’mon raise your hand.
● You wait until the last minute “because you work better that way”. But if you looked at how much time you’ve wasted goofing off you might think things through differently.
● Buzzing about how busy you are seems to be a badge of honor with some people. Yet, I’ll take the person that calmly manages their time all day long. They are usually more productive.
● How about “Moody Judy”? Have you ever worked with someone that gets moodier or crankier the closer to a deadline they get? They freakout and have a nuclear meltdown with a “the world is going to end” attitude. The funny thing is that they never see it.
So what can the average person do about procrastination? Are we just all doomed to a roller coaster ride of action, inaction, worry and constant self-doubt? Here are some tips to help:
First, stop worrying about perfection. Just get started. Even doing something small for fifteen minutes can help give you the momentum to act. For example, let’s say you need to clean the shop and have been putting it off. Just organize one section instead of worrying about the entire building. Looks good? Do the next area tomorrow.
Another trick is to write down what you want to do and assign a date to it. To make it even better set up an appointment on your calendar. “At 11:00 tomorrow I am going to write a blog post about procrastination.” Which actually is exactly what happened here. Yes, I did schedule a procrastination task. Maybe I do win an award after all.
Remind yourself and your crew that finishing a task now can help you in the future. For example, why should you experiment with silicone inks if none of your clients are using it on their orders? Simple. Because if you learn how to do it now, you can master the techniques and learn all the ways it can go wrong. This helps you during the sales process. But also it helps you price things better and understanding the production timeline needed. Getting prepared is a sign of professionalism. This isn’t just a hobby for you is it?
Rewards work great too. Make your team happy by congratulating them on finishing a project or even some sub-goals on a bigger program. This doesn’t have to be a monetary goal either. Maybe just an extra ten minutes at break or an ice cream part on a Friday could do the trick. If you have a shop sound system, award the biggest contributor the right to set the playlist for the day.
Lastly make sure you are prioritizing the tasks appropriately. You don’t want to be putting one thing off for another that seems like it’s making a difference. For example, instead of handling the preventative maintenance on your equipment, you organize the customer pick-up area instead. Both are important, but want task contributes to the greater good of the shop? Do the things that matter the most first.
So there you have it. I feel better now that I’ve completed the article! Crossed it off my to-do list too.
Got something you need to finish? What are you waiting for? Right now seems like a good time.