5 Triggers That Might Be Causing You To Procrastinate More During The Pandemic
Most of us are raised with the belief that hard work brings rewards. In rural parts of the world, hard work means there will be food on the table that day. In more developed regions of the world, hard work can mean greater income for a better life. And to the small business owner, hard work means not just survival of the business, but the ability to maintain financial control and time freedom. Whatever our circumstance, without the desire to get things done, we will come up empty handed, which is one compelling and obvious reason we choose to step up and make things happen everyday.
But as solopreneurs and small business owners, what happens to us when we lose our drive, albeit even temporarily, during those times when we don’t feel like getting certain things done? There might be a task that we keep putting off because our survival doesn’t really depend on it, so we procrastinate. We know that we are in avoidance mode and our procrastination seems to be buying us some time, but deep down our conscience nags us. There is a gap, and rightfully so. Procrastination can literally take our business down by hurting our reputation, upsetting relationships with valued clients, creating an environment in which decisions are made hastily by coming down to the deadline and opening the way for sloppy work product.
The dance with procrastination is normal and part of the human condition, but compound that with a global pandemic, stay at home orders, and a work/school home environment and the situation becomes amplified quickly. How has this changed things for business owners during the pandemic? We know that for many there has been a very real psychological effect on the desire to get things done since the pandemic. Let’s explore a few reasons why our motivation may have changed during 2020.
1. Less Social Interaction
A very likely reason for procrastination during the pandemic is that we have far less social interaction. Social interaction is good for all of us and for business owners; it is a lifeline. Social interaction connects us to a broader whole, prompts us to be on our toes and take better care of ourselves. Social interaction releases valuable neurochemicals which serve to encourage us to do more by stimulating our brain and body, motivating us to move forward with initiatives and plans, and this is vital to the business owner’s ability to stay motivated and keep on top of things.
Staying home and connecting with others ‘virtually’ does not have the same effect. Without the social cues that in-person meetings provide, we tend to lose focus, daydream more and disconnect. In fact, as a result of a reduction of in-person interactions, we may even begin to question our values in relation to the work we do. And if in fact our drive to excel in our work has diminished, we may find ourselves procrastinating on tasks that no longer seem in service to what might be seen as shifting values. Without proper recognition of this, the result for our business can be disastrous.
2. A Shift In Personal Values
Anxiety regarding the state of the world, unemployment, homeschooling and childcare issues, in addition to dealing with the realities of illness and loss for some, may have caused us to pause and redetermine what is important to us. As stresses mount causing us to take a deeper look at our values, we might find that our perspective is changing. For example, before the pandemic, one of our highest values may have been to increase business revenues at the expense of time with family so that we could provide for the future, whereas now perhaps the value to “belong” and spend quality time with family now and live for those precious moments has taken precedence over hustling to earn more. As we redirect our focus, motivation for tasks that previously seemed of importance to us is no longer there. Internally we may be challenging the status quo in our lives, and a reaction to this may be allowing a default pattern of procrastination to set in, before we even realize it.
3. More Time at Home
With more time on our hands and an increase in domesticity, we might tend to waste time as it were, by procrastinating in our business activities. Working from home and having more availability to our families (or more time for ourselves) may be changing our outlook on work life balance. We have time to reflect. The solidarity of domestic life in the face of a changing world may bring comfort to us and could begin to chip away at our motivation to do things that seem less significant. When we are used to waking up in the morning, driving to our business, interacting at our workplace and getting things done, we are relying on a structure that supports our efforts whether we are in the mood or not.
4. Unclear Distinctions in Work and Home Life
Unclear distinctions between work and home life can lead to burnout as we strive to give our all to both family and business. On the other hand, distractions that weren’t previously a part of our work environment can inadvertently lead to underachievement—we might be getting less done. And getting less done can work against motivation, perpetuating the tendency to procrastinate.
5. A Changing Society
The heightened conversation about politics, race, police brutality, redefining institutions and the changing of societal norms has led to an uncertainty about our future. As we think about and debate how society will change, our attention on work may seem less important. Change and uncertainty are culprits of fear and insecurity, causing some of us to question the direction of our own future. Hours in the day that have been freed up, allow us the opportunity to reflect on the deeper meaning of things. What is it that has the utmost meaning to us? Have we replaced the importance of our business activities with things that reflect shifting values such as more time with loved ones, preparing for an early retirement, mentoring and giving back? In other words, what have the inner reflections during this time created for us in terms of the future of our business? Procrastination in this case may merely be a byproduct of knowing on some level that we want to shift, if even slightly, and we are no longer allocating our energy to do certain tasks in our business.
How to Integrate Shifting Values Into Your Business Plan
There are many ways to overcome procrastination, but the focus here is to determine the cause for procrastinating during the pandemic. Your reasons for procrastination may not include a shift in values but rather and more simply be a temporary condition based on the instability of 2020. If that is the case, allow yourself some grace and determine what comes next after things are back to normal.
However if you have noticed that your values have changed and you want to incorporate those new values into the fabric of your business,
there are a number of ways to do this.
I. Long term planning.
A.Evaluate what is important to you and what you want your life to look like in the next 10 years. B. What role does your business play in your new vision?
1. The long view will help you determine what changes you need to make to get to where you want to go by honoring any new values that have emerged as a result of the pandemic.
II. Create a new business model based on a revised strategic plan.
A.If you decide to downsize or scale up based on your new plan, how will you do that.
B.What are the options?
C.Brainstorm and make a comprehensive list.
III. Once clear on what you want the next ten years to look like, reverse engineer how you might make that happen.
A.Let’s say that you have decided to work less in your business, even as the pandemic is resolved.
1.What does that look like.
2.Will you need to hire someone to take your place
3.Will you downsize your staff and take on less clients?
4.Will you change your pricing to include higher prices so that you can sell less and make more?
5.Will you find new and more lucrative markets?
6.Will you operate on an outsourcing model?
7.What physical and structural changes will need to happen and when?
These are just a few of the questions needed to ask yourself as you begin to create a new vision for your business in the years to come.
Clear vision and planning is the antidote to procrastination. Once your vision aligns with your values and you create a plan to take you there, the stresses that once plagued you become motivational assets that will propel you into a future you love. In a visionary approach to business success, awareness and aligning values is key, and taking action in accordance with that meta perspective will pay huge dividends in your business and in your life.
There is no question that things have changed as a result of the pandemic. Shifting values and priorities play a greater role in our lives than we might know or understand. During the pandemic, as former values possibly give way to an evolving reality, we must think about realigning our business with those values that may have shifted during the pandemic.
Procrastination can be a sign that we are not honoring our values. And through an expanded awareness of yourself and the cues your tendencies provide, you will discover what values have changed for you, if any, as a result of the pandemic. No doubt it is a stressful time, and symptoms like procrastination might be seen as a positive if we use it as a way to illuminate internal changes that are in response to changes in our external world.