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While some people are living their best lives at home in isolation and are being productive beyond measure, there is a large portion of our society who isn’t doing well, and many of these people still have a job. The only difference is, they’re working from home and their face-to-face connections have been severed. You might be one of these people.
We all get inspiration and motivation from different things, people and environments. People who thrive working from home tend to love it due to fewer distractions, less travel time, they can be themselves, be with pets and flexibility. I’m one of these people – I always work from home as my home office is inspiring and I’m easily distracted by others.I am fully aware that not everyone feels this way – especially when it comes to younger generations in particular. While many of us Gen Xers love a home-office, Gen Y and Gen Z tend to hate them. For many, an office is a place of social connections, inspiration and direction. Many people only have friendships through work, and if they weren’t to go to an office, would have very little interaction with other humans – even in their personal life. Sadly, many Australian’s are lonely – even when they have a physical job to go to. In a study conducted by the Australian Psychological Society (APS) and Swinburne University in 2018, 50.6% of people said they felt lonely. Now fast forward to today, and you can guarantee that statistic is much higher, as many of us are missing our colleagues, friends, family and business associates.
There are certain factors that are associated with lonely people – the major ones being a feeling of low energy, irritability, higher anxiety levels, lack of motivation, increased mental health issues, inability to concentrate, negative thoughts, sleep disturbances, procrastination, boredom and the inability to achieve personal or professional goals. Note that loneliness has factors in common with depression and other mental health problems, so these factors aren’t exclusive to loneliness.Some of you reading this will now recognise a few of these factors in yourself, your staff or colleagues, something that before the pandemic was quite an alien concept. While the good news is that there will be an end to this feeling of loneliness for many of us, it is valuable to reflect and sympathise with half of Australia who feel like this all the time. Food for thought.
Contrary to popular belief, procrastination isn’t as simple as the product of fear! The business sector fixated on a study on this in 1992, which is why you hear this as a single cause from many business coaches and motivational speakers worldwide.
Science builds on previous findings, and in the past 28 years has learned much more on this subject - which is vast and complicated which is why this is a specialised area of social science. Fear can be a contributing factor for some people – depending on their personality traits, experience, self-regulation and motivation levels, but is by no means the main factor or the most common.
In fact, the majority of people procrastinate because they are bored, dislike the task, don’t know where to start, the task seems too big to tackle, lack of skills to perform it, the task is perceived as too “junior” the task doesn’t lead to a big enough tangible reward or appreciation, they have mental health issues, feel low or demotivated, or lack self-regulation and self-efficacy. Or as mentioned earlier, due to brain executive dysfunction in ADHD. This is why I cringe when I see motivational speakers talk about procrastination as something that can be solved with positive thinking. For some, it is a debilitating life-long condition which brings along with it anxiety, depression and social withdrawal.
Another cause for procrastination and demotivation is the size of the task. For those of you who have employees, you may have noticed over the years that employees tend to gravitate towards small tasks that are achievable in shorter time-frames, v’s huge tasks that span months. Why is this? The human brain finds it difficult to start tasks it can’t imagine completing in the near future. Tasks that are too big become overwhelming, and most people like to avoid things that overwhelm them. This is why project management exists –breaking down huge tasks into smaller, manageable, logical chunks is a way to overcome procrastination and demotivation. You can also use apps such as WorkflowMax to assist you in doing this.
One of the big issues with running an SME is finding people who are happy to put all hands-on deck, and get the work done, regardless of what the work is. Many people have left the corporate world to start businesses, and others have left to have a less stressful life. These people, when at this stage in their career look for jobs in the local area that are perhaps a little junior in comparison to their corporate job, but are paid well and provide a better work-life balance. As humans, we are often quick to forget the horrors that we’ve been through, and in these instances, some people forget why they left the corporate world, and start to resent their more junior role. This a huge road-block for small businesses, and a huge contributor to demotivation and procrastination. This is where people’s emotional states can create task avoidance.
Expectancy Theory explains motivation (or lack thereof) by the expected outcome of a task, or the reward. This theory denotes that for a person to be motivated to complete a task they need to believe their effort will result in their desired goal, that they have the skills to perform it, and that their performance will meet performance expectations. They must also believe the completion of the task will result in a reward they value.In our filing example – the reward might be the issue, because there is not a high value on completed filing for most people. In the case of sales, the reward (a bonus, prestige, satisfaction) is the driving force. However, in your business, salary might not be the reward required. In fact, studies on motivation show that job satisfaction is different for everyone, and isn’t as simple as just money. A simple thank-you can be all it takes.
Neurodiverse Disorders such as ADHD
ADHD impacts at least 3.2% of women and most of these are undiagnosed. It presents differently in women to men, and is often not accompanied by the stereotypical hyperactivity that many assume. ADHD can be internalised, hard to spot, and for those that have it, is the source of their procrastination. Procrastination for the ADHDer, is a source of mental anguish, self-loathing, and an inability to do what they need to do until the deadline gets so close that panic becomes the motivational source. It is also common in entrepreneurs because ADHDer's have difficulty in taking direction or sticking to normal working hours or deadlines. They tend to be very creative, can be highly intelligent, and are the sort of people who can stay calm in a crisis, and have their own set of superpowers, but self-motivation isn't one of them. You can read more about ADHD in women here.
It is also very important to know that motivation and procrastination in can often be due to the inability of a person to regulate their emotional state. Self-regulation theory is one of the Psychological Theories used to explain procrastination and demotivation, and in its simplest form explains that people who don’t procrastinate hold self-standards of desirable behaviour, have the self-motivation to meet those standards, monitor situations and their own emotions that might affect standards, and have the willpower (intrinsic motivation) to control their inner emotions which might cause them to become demotivated or procrastinate. They also very rarely loose emotional control – that is they don’t snap at people, shout or display mood swings with their clients or staff, because this breaches their standards.
To conclude, procrastination and demotivation correlate with a myriad of factors. There is no one cause for why we procrastinate or why we become demotivated, however, I hope this article will help with working through some of the things that might be holding you back.Don’t feel bad if you aren’t thriving or working on your business, something good will come of this current crisis – even if that something is just surviving to the other side.If you need help with any of these topics, please reach out to me at firstname.lastname@example.org
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