Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Four Reasons Why Delaying And Dodging Work Never Pays Off

Indecision is an annoyance, inaction is a pain. Don't you hate it when your boss passes to you - late on Friday evening - an assignment due yesterday that has been sitting on his desk for the whole week? Or when the IT guy fails to drop by your desk as promised to fix your computer which refuses to start? Well, maybe your boss overlook the file tucked hidden in the Himalayan piles of papers. Or maybe the IT guy was too swamped with other work. Valid explanation? Not really. There is no excuse for being slow. There is no prize for being late.

The left guy has a lot of explaining to do

1. Nothing venture, nothing gain

No one ever achieve greatness by mucking around waiting. Alexander The Great marched all way to India, at the tender age of thirty. He didn't wait around for the stars too aligned, angels to fall from the heavens to deliver god's blessings, or to take a referendum. He just conquered what he saw wherever he went. Fortune favours the brave.

However, many dare not venture far beyond their comfort zones. They will only act once they've checked and double-checked, and ask others to confirm and double-confirm. But by the time they've completed their analysis and build enough confidence, it's far too late. Either the time to act has passed and basically all their efforts go to waste, or this happens...

2. Somebody else will do your job (and that's not a good thing)

This may seem like a god-sent solution for procrastinators. But actually it's not. If someone else takes charge over your job, and does it well, then he takes the credit and leave you looking like an idiot. And even if he messes up the job badly, you may take part of the blame for not acting faster, and in all events, you will be called upon to clean up that mess anyway. Procrastinators never prosper.

Face it. In life, you can't escape from challenging tasks. An urgent email from client that needs a response by the end of the day. A project launch when your family is in town for the weekend. Shit happens, deal with it. Try delegating the task away once, twice, and before you know it, you've made a habit of avoiding personal responsibilities and being over-reliant on people. After a while, people will come to realise that you're just not just a procrastinator, but a parasite. And no one likes to help a parasite, so pretty soon you'll end up buried in your pile of 101 problems all alone.

3. Learning by trial and error

Fine, you acted fast, and you made the wrong call. But so what? We live and learn. We make mistakes. We slip on a banana skin and fall flat on our faces, every once in a while. Even Alexander the Great didn't escape from error. His Indian campaign had to be cut short when his homesick and battle-weary men mutinied. He swallowed his pride, put his world domination plans on hold, and turned back. Had he persisted on going on, his demoralised army would have been routed and his legacy tarnished.

Be bold. The more mistakes you make early on, the more chances you have to learn and improve. Being timid only slows down your learning curve. It's bad if you don't get it right, but it's worse if you don't even try. Better to act and know you were wrong, than do nothing and never knowing right from wrong.

Work fast and hard enough, and all this could be yours at your 30th birthday

4. Your worth is in the things you do, not the things you avoid doing

Many smartasses assume they can weasel their way out of doing their jobs by passing the buck ('tai chi' masters). Cite some technicality in the manual of authority, then deny having mandate to act. Explain in detail how the task falls into this particular area of expertise, then disclaim all knowledge in that area. When a query pops up in your inbox, reply by asking back 101 questions for the purpose of "better understanding the context of the issue" in hope the inquirer would lose patience and email someone else for help. Sneaky tricks. But it doesn't pay off in the long run.

Even if you succeed in passing the buck, you've also successfully rendered yourself irrelevant. People remember life-savers fondly ("Great guy, Jim - helped us close the deal last week"). No one ever remembers fondly, if at all, of the bloke who shakes his head and points to the life-savers ("We should've gone to Jim earlier, instead of wasting time asking that whatisname, oh, nevermind"). Keep avoiding work, and work will stop coming your way - permanently.

You Snooze, You Lose 

All of us are guilty of delaying and dodging work. Some do it more than others. It's a bad habit that we need to shake off, whether as managers or employees. For those who snooze the longest, stand to lose the most.

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