Monday, June 12, 2023

10 Bad Habits That May Be Stopping You From Finishing

bad-habits-creativeBased on my work as a business consultant, I find a growing challenge in getting employees to complete their commitments on time, or even finish a task before moving on to new work. After digging deeper, I find that most of these cases are not intentional, and the guilty may not even be aware of bad habits which are hurting their image and antagonizing management and customers.

For example, you may have customers waiting for a call-back on an issue, or a team member waiting for your work before they can move forward. Any one of these cases can cause your business to lose customers, or your next career move to be challenged.

I found a good summary of the bad habits that can cause failures to finish in a recent book, “How to Finish Everything You Start,” by Jan Yager. She is an award-winning author who has taught courses on sociology and victimology for many years. She explains the primary reasons and excuses from people who often fail to finish tasks. I will paraphrase here my view of the top ten:

  1. Fear of failure – if you don’t finish, you can’t fail. This way of thinking, which may be conscious or unconscious, can prevent you from totally finishing your projects and tasks. To rid yourself of this fear, first get training to give you confidence, then try to view failure as a badge of courage and consider failing as a training ground for success.
  1. Perfectionism – redoing work to get it just right. Once you accept this as one of your problems, readjust your standards to strive for attainable excellence rather than unrealistic perfection. Learn to delegate or partner with others, and work on being comfortable with feedback that may feel like criticism for being less than perfect.
  1. Procrastination – arbitrarily delaying work on a project. I see reasons here varying from wrong priorities to resentment at being asked to do work that is too simple, too difficult, or should belong to someone else. The antidotes include buffering your plan, rewarding every finish, and scheduling the work at the most productive part of you day.
  1. Underestimating your actual task completion times. Most people call this poor planning. The solution for you requires that you do more homework before committing and promising less to keep expectations lower. Let results prove that you are a super performer rather than an underachiever. Don’t be afraid to ask for help along the way.
  1. Setting an unrealistic deadline in the first place. Avoid accepting too much work or picking a task completion deadline out of thin air without research just to please someone else. Don’t be afraid to just say “no” or ask for time to propose a response or completion time. Be prepared for a small kickback up front, in lieu of a larger failure to deliver later.
  1. Trying to do too many tasks at the same time. Multitasking is popular these days, and some feel a requirement for survival in this world of electronic and media devices calling for attention, including smartphones, email, social media, and smart home devices. Yet most evidence still shows that higher productivity requires focus on one thing at a time.
  1. Lack of delivery due to disorganization and clutter. You can’t finish something if you can’t even find what you’re supposed to be doing in the first place. The solution is to take control of your workspace, home office, and keep it organized with priority work on top. Remove clutter and develop a system for tracking projects and managing resources.
  1. Emotional turmoil or need for immediate gratification. It’s hard to finish projects when you’re emotionally upset about something in your work environment, or outside of work in your private life. The solution may be to take some time off, find outlets to calm emotions, break up big tasks into more manageable little chunks, and delegate more work to others.
  1. “Out of sight, out of mind”- not looming in front of you. Having a file tucked away on your computer, or in a filing cabinet, can cause you to miss commitments. Having a completely clear and clean desk may impress others, but it may lead you to forget the work ahead and miss completion dates. Use “to-do” lists or post-its to keep you focused.
  1. Too many distractions and interruptions. In my experience, many business professionals allow themselves to be distracted or interrupted by the phone, social media, email, and outside activities, to the point they cannot complete committed tasks. I find it helpful to block out time periods when I ask not to be interrupted to allow total immersion.

If you see yourself in one of these categories, I urge you to focus on changing your image before it comes back to limit your career or your business. Success in business is all about results, rather than work effort and the number of things you start. Don’t let a couple of bad habits be your downfall.

Marty Zwilling

*** First published on on 05/28/2023 ***



No comments:

Post a Comment