Why we should not wait till the last minute.

By October 31, 2015 March 19th, 2019 Evolve Insights

As it appeared in the daily nation of August 4th 2015

by Lucy Kiruthu

The Kidero grass phenomenon got many of us talking on social media. I am certain that the grass was not in readiness for the Pope’s visit nor was it to beautify Nairobi for its esteemed everyday residents. Many recounted that the grass was under so much pressure to turn green in just three days, in readiness for the Obama homecoming. Why was the grass not planted in good time? Many of us that made fun of the Kidero grass are not much different. We postpone certain tasks till the last minute. We delay writing our term papers till the last week of the semester. Despite having the instructions from week 1, many students prefer staying up all night a few days to the due day. We go shopping on the day the guests are visiting and we arrive for meetings late or drive on Mombasa road in haste arriving at the airport just in the nick of time.

The fact that we can procrastinate provides us with a choice. Do we do it now or later?  Too often we put off those tasks that we consider unpleasant. Psychologist Professor Clarry Lay, who writes on the subject, says that procrastination occurs when there is a significant time period between when we intend to do a job, and when we actually do it. Procrastination does not only impact the procrastinator, it often also gets into the way of others and impacts service to our customers. It is not only tailoring shops and furniture stores that are worst hit; many others wait till the last minute to get simple customers’ tasks done. At our workplaces we know colleagues that like putting off tasks till the last minute. Each of us can almost admit that we have been caught up in last minute undertakings either because we put off something till too late or the procrastination of others affected us.   Why do we wait till the last minute? Is it possibly human nature?

I believe there are many reasons why we like to procrastinate. For some it as a habit, for others they thrive in the adrenaline rush that comes with the last minute thrust. For some of us, we may see it as the right tactic, for example Just in time (JIT) ordering of goods after all reduces the cost of holding inventory in our stores.  For many however, poor planning is the main cause of the last minute dash. Running out of time becomes the order of the day and just about everything becomes urgent. I have often heard this statement used on procrastinators “failure to plan on your part does not constitute an emergency on my part”. The same could be said from a customer service perspective “failure to plan on our part should not result to the customer being inconvenienced”.

Charles Dickens famous quote that procrastination is the thief of time is true today as it was in his days. Many of us know how expensive last minute plans can be. If we book a flight last minute or ship our goods last minute we get to pay a premium.  Why not consider procrastinating procrastination?

Lucy Kiruthu is a Management Consultant and Trainer and can be reached on lucy@evolve-consultants.com/old or via twitter @kiruthulucy

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