Tag Archives: Work ethic

Stop Putting Off Your Procrastination Problem

The definition of procrastination is putting off something that was planned or scheduled.  Statistics indicate that most people procrastinate.  At least 20 percent of the population calls themselves chronic procrastinators, and according to some researchers, procrastination has more than quadrupled in the last 30 years. 

I think that more and more people have become accustomed to procrastination in recent years for the same reasons that fewer men are going to college and fewer young adults are becoming autonomous – very little is expected of them anymore.

When we were in the era of responsibility, obligations were taken seriously.  Very few people procrastinated because there were consequences for doing so.  However, people today are hardly ever held accountable for anything, especially teens and young adults.  It used to be that if you had an 8-to-4 job, you arrived at your desk at 8 ready to work; you weren’t stumbling through the door at 9.  A lot of young people don’t get that, and then wonder why they are having such a tough time getting jobs.  It’s not just because of the economy – there is simply a lack of respect for young adults in the business world today because they lack commitment, work ethic, diligence, focus, and pride in what they do.

In addition, advances in technology have come at the cost of reducing many people’s effectiveness.   Between the TV, Facebook, and the latest Blackberrys and iPads, technology is providing people with constant distractions.  And with more lazy, unmotivated people sitting around drooling into screens, it’s no wonder that the procrastination statistics keep going up. 

Another contributing factor is that there isn’t a whole lot of parenting going on anymore.  Fewer and fewer kids are spending time with Mommy and Daddy at the dinner table discussing their day.  Chalk it up to divorce or no parent staying at home, but the outcome is the same: kids get away with murder and there’s no hell to pay.  Parents are failing to teach their kids about obligations and responsibilities.  A hundred years ago, kids got up at 5 a.m. and did a whole heck of a lot of stuff before they went to school.  Nowadays, I have parents calling me up complaining about how they can’t get their kids to get dressed in the morning.  It’s ridiculous. 

As you can see, people are not born procrastinators; they are formed to be that way.  And sadly, when they become chronic procrastinators, the results can be dire.  They often experience financial failure or end up dying younger than they should because they don’t bother to go get tests.

If you have a problem with procrastination, here’s what to do:

People procrastinate for all kinds of reasons, but more often than not, I think procrastination is a kind of passive aggressive behavior: “Screw you!” “I don’t have to!” “I don’t want to!”  “I don’t feel like it!”  So, if you really want to change, stop being hostile and start acting like a responsible person.

Don’t overthink what you have to do or make things too complicated – just get started.  It’s funny how something you were initially dreading can all of sudden become easier once you start it.  If you want an example of this, just listen to some of the people who call in to my program.  They may start off extremely nervous, but once they start talking, all their hesitation goes away.   

If you feel overwhelmed by a big project, break it up into smaller chunks.  Start with the hardest part first and then take a step back.  You’ll likely find that once you’ve finished each smaller task, the bigger project isn’t as difficult as you feared.

If you don’t have the right skills to complete a project, do some research or call someone to help you.  YouTube, for example, has a million useful little videos of people explaining how to do all kinds of stuff.  I learned how to drill certain jewelry pieces I’ve worked on from watching YouTube videos.

If you don’t have the right tools, find out where you can buy or borrow them.

Set realistic goals.  What can you realistically do given your abilities?  Ask someone to help pace you.

If you’re easily distracted by clutter, your phone, or your friends, then block out time dedicated to working on what you need to get done.  I rarely have my cell phone on me.  It certainly frustrates a lot of people who want to get a hold of me at that precise moment, but when I want to sit and deal with something, I cut out the distractions.  One of the things you must do in life is prioritize.  Do what needs to be done first, not what you wish to do.  Always remind yourself of what the highest priority is.
If you are a perfectionist (as I tend to be), you need to learn to control your impulse to be perfect.  I remember reading about one culture which purposefully put one tiny mistake in everything they made.  I thought that was so clever – what you do doesn’t always have to be perfect to be an expression of you.

Lastly, if you are afraid of failing or taking responsibility, you need to remember that the greatest failure is sitting there like a lump of protoplasm and not trying.  Failing is an inevitable part of trying, but failing is not an endpoint – not trying is.  Failure is at least a step forward toward success.

Getting yourself organized and putting a stop to your procrastination is pretty simple.  Set a reasonable goal, give yourself a time frame, dump the excuses, and figure out a way to hold yourself accountable. In short, just make it happen.

Kids’ Allowances: Giving vs. Earning

When it comes to the issue of whether or not to give kids an allowance, there are two schools of thought.

The first school of thought says a child’s allowance should be associated with work:

“The only way you get money is to earn it; there is no entitlement program in life.  If kids have to work for their money, they also will start to understand and hopefully appreciate how hard it is to work and earn money.  There may even be a miracle that takes place, and they will start to understand that Mom and Dad have to work hard for their money as well!”

Up until recently, the American ethic has always been that the only way you get money is to earn it (of course, in reality it’s not always that way – anyone keeping up with the Federal government bailouts?).  Even though Cinderella didn’t get an allowance, she still ended up with a prince, the castle, and a very uncomfortable glass slipper. 

The second school of thought advocates for parents to divide chores into two categories: family chores and extra chores

Family chores are chores children have to do because they are members of the family.  They don’t get paid for them; their reward is an internal sense of accomplishment that helps them develop a work ethic.   
Parents can also create a list of extra chores children can do to earn money.  Extra chores will teach your child to appreciate hard work and understand that earning money involves work.

For example, your children shouldn’t get paid for brushing their teeth, keeping their own space clean, or putting their toys away.  If you child doesn’t brush his or her teeth or clean up, you take away a privilege like watching TV.  But all chores in the home, like setting tables and doing laundry, are paid for with a salary on a weekly schedule.  If work-for-pay jobs are not done, then there’s just no pay.

Here’s what I think:

I really don’t see a huge difference between the two schools.  I think an extremely modest allowance should be given based on your child’s age.  It should be just enough to pay for little small things, nothing major.   For example, they can’t go out and buy a new pair of cool shoes.  You should also expect them to do minor chores for their allowance, such as keeping themselves and their room neat.  Everything else they can earn by doing major chores such as setting and clearing the table, or dealing with the garbage, dogs, and/or yard.  I don’t think you should withhold allowance because they didn’t do something or annoyed you.  I don’t think money should be associated with that. 

For the major chores, create a list with a price tag attached to each chore.  You can even post it somewhere in the house.  The list specifies what things they can do and what they earn for having done them, just like a restaurant menu shows what a particular meal costs.  If they want to make extra money, those are the chores they have to do.  That way they earn their way.  If they don’t earn the extra money, and then say they want to go to some event and don’t have enough money, you just tell them that they need to think ahead the next time.  It teaches them a powerful lesson.  If you just give them the money, it teaches them no lesson.  Instead, they’ll just think they’re entitled, and they’ll be on their way to buying things they can’t afford.

In addition, tell them whatever they earn will have to go into a bank account, some of it will have to go to charity, and the rest they can keep, save, or spend.  Putting money in the bank teaches them to save.  Tell them they can’t touch the money unless there’s something huge taking place (e.g. when they’re 15 and want to go on a special school trip, they can pull money out with the understanding they won’t have it for the future).  The amount given to charity teaches them to be generous. 

By following these steps, you will teach your kids to budget and manage their money, and control their need for instant gratification.