An easy Kaizen technique for beating procrastination

Let’s define it first. According to the Cambridge Dictionary, procrastination is to keep delaying something that must be done, often because it is unpleasant or boring. Several people talk about it, and it seems it is an accepted activity within the culture of entertainment and distraction. However, few people realize how harmful it is for them as individuals and for their jobs (especially for the companies they work for.) Procrastination is one of the most harmful activities to business. In fact, one of the big problems with the supply chains of many companies is the procrastination of their employees, because this issue is directly related to low levels of productivity.

The best way to solve this problem is to train employees to have mental tools to deal with this issue. One of the most effective tools, widely recommended by experts, is Kaizen. In this post, you will find an easy Kaizen technique that will help you and your workers to beat procrastination and then achieve better results in terms of production and use of time.

So, why we do procrastinate? It is an irrational paradox, because we know that it’s an unhealthy behavior, and yet, we don’t stop doing it. We feel guilty for wasting time, but we are still wasting it. Why? Because when we have to perform a task that requires some effort (physical or mental), especially if it is complex, tedious and demand your whole attention, your brain will seek to save “that painful activity” and energy expenditure, and will offer you others more simple to perform that will keep you entertained for a while. Maybe you must write an inventory report, maybe it would take a couple of hours maybe less,) and instead, you have stopped writing for drinking another cup of coffee. Then you read all the news on your favorite website, then you check the Twitter account of Lady Gaga, then you play chess against a Russian player online and then you watch a list of ten YouTube videos (which start with “10 tricks you can do with a lighter”, and ends with the bloopers of the last season of Game of Thrones.) At the end of the day, you have only half an hour to finish your report, and you take the work home. It costs money to your company, and it costs you valuable time of your life.

The problematic issue is that distractions are everywhere, and the more addictive they are, the more money they produce. It means that thousands of people work hard for distracting other people in order to make money. This is a serious matter, because those tasks that you don’t want to do are precisely the most useful for you and the company you work for.

What can you do then?

An easy Kaizen technique for beating procrastination
Courtesy of World Bank Photo Collection at Flickr.com

Kaizen is very useful for solving such problems because this method helps you to reach a long series of small goals, easy to achieve. Check the following three-step Kaizen technique:

  • Make the unconscious conscious

When you’re procrastinating, or about to procrastinate, you must be aware that you’re wasting your time. This point is extremely important because procrastination is usually an unconscious process, very much like the hypnosis we experience in front of the TV. If it’s hard for you to stop paying attention to your distractions, breathe deeply and slowly for ten counts (seriously.)

  • Define your obstacle

When you are aware that you are procrastinating, observe carefully what prevents you continuing with your tasks. For example: You must pack some merchandise and store it in a container. It is an important order, which will be delivered tomorrow in a truck in the early hours. However, you want to reply to a Facebook comment in the midst of a politics discussion. Once you realize that you’re procrastinating, define your obstacle mentally: “I don’t want to pack the merchandise because I want to keep arguing on Facebook.”

  • Make the first step

Once you define your obstacle, think of the first action you should take in order to stop procrastinating. For example, if you need to repair a machine, but you’re reading the newspaper, close the newspaper and leave it on the table. If you must answer an email to your suppliers, but you’re reading about the properties of the Mediterranean diet on Wikipedia, close that tab. If you must write a list of missing supplies for the warehouse, but you’re doing a test to find out which character from Friends you are, turn off your mobile.

Related: How Kaizen Can Help You Live A Better Life, by David Kiger

Remember: do an action at a time. What action should you take to continue your pending task? Think and act. One action at a time.

Remember: Don’t try to understand what you’re doing. Just do it. The important thing is that the more you implement this three-step technique, you will gradually apply it without thinking.

Be patient. You’re changing a habit you have been doing for years and you will surely procrastinate in the attempt. Don’t punish yourself if you fail. Start over and over until you make it. Remember the basics of Kaizen: improving little by little every day.

Recommended: Supply Chain Management and Sustainability: Procrastinating Integration in Mainstream Research

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