According to this study, more than 32% university students rate procrastination a major problem and only 1% say they’ve never procrastinated.
We all know the cost procrastination, but we mostly evaluate it in terms of delay in the task or sub-par quality as a result of last-minute rush.
But, sometimes, as it happened with me, procrastination can lead to wastage of humongous amount of time.
I recall watching a movie wherein the protagonist’s financial fortunes changed for worse, and, as a result, his garment factory was teetering on its last legs. Luckily, in the nick of time, he lands a project for stitching ten thousand shirts (of three different sizes) – a big project which would, at least he thought so, take him out of financial trouble, and save his factory.
What happens next, though, is catastrophic. His new, energetic manager fulfils nearly half the order, but without getting a sample each (of three different type) approved by the buyer. It turns out that one of the sizes doesn’t meet the standard, and, as a result, a good chunk of the first lot gets rejected.
What could’ve been a great escape from the financial mess, in fact, adds to it, and the protagonist eventually mortgages his factory.
Ideally, the manager should have first created one perfect shirt for each of the three sizes, got it approved by the customer, and then replicated.
Here, implications were huge, and most of you – if you work as this manager – won’t make this mistake. But, there are cases where financial stakes may not be high but other resources such as time may be, and in such cases we may be less careful in first creating that ideal end product.
Few months back, when I was recording audio clips for an online course, I made the same mistake. Recording the first one took much more time than I expected, as I was new to the process. Second was quicker. Now, after the second, I got sucked into the ease with which I had started recording, and rode on the momentum to record all other clips, as it seemed like I was accomplishing lot of things effortlessly.
After recording all the clips, I came to the next step – editing. And to my horror, I found that I could’ve recorded the clips differently to save lot of time on editing. In fact, some of them had to be re-recorded. And, as a result, I was set back by two weeks.
In hindsight, had I recorded just one, edited it, and produced it (as in right side of the image) to get the final piece, I would’ve detected the problem in the initial stage itself and wouldn’t have wasted so much time. But, I didn’t.
There are two primary reasons why most of us don’t prove a sample first, and get into mass-production mode earlier than desired:
1. Sense of not accomplishing much
Producing the first complete piece takes long. If there are three elements (for example, recording, editing, and producing in case of creating an audio clip) to a complete piece, it takes disproportionately long time to complete the first piece, as you go through each of the three elements for the first time. And it seems to you that you are slow. That you are not progressing.
So, what you do?
You overwork the first element to get that sense of accomplishment.
You want to postpone the difficult part of the project. Having experienced the ease after mastering the first element, you want to postpone the difficult part.
Don’t fall prey to false sense of accomplishment. Run the course. Produce that one perfect sample. And, then replicate.
The first one will consume disproportionately more time, but don’t get discouraged. It’s common. You’ll save lot of wasted effort by investing upfront.
Question: Have you been in a similar situation – going with the momentum and not focusing on creating the best sample first? What was your experience?
Photo credit: Dressmaking