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Posted August 12, 2016 by

8 pros of procrastination your future boss will appreciate

Photo courtesy of StockUnlimited.com

Photo courtesy of StockUnlimited.com

Meet the most successful procrastinators in the world. Steve Jobs is known to be a chronic procrastinator.   Bill Clinton famously always left the final revision of his speeches until the last minute, causing his aides a lot of angst and stress.  Frank Lloyd Wright once procrastinated on a commission for almost a year.  He finally started the job when he got word that his patron was driving out to visit and to see his progress.  He completed the work in the time it took to drive to his home, and it became the great masterpiece “Fallingwater.” The famous screenwriter Aaron Sorkin (of “The West Wing” fame) procrastinates to such a degree that he sometimes gives actors their scripts in the middle of the show.  In fact, despite its bad rep, many argue that procrastination is a hallmark of creativity.

It’s difficult to believe this philosophy when we have been so thoroughly indoctrinated to perceive procrastination as a flaw. There have been hundreds of self-help books and articles dedicated to helping people overcome it. However, procrastination is actually a very complex issue without a simple explanation.

To fully understand why someone procrastinates, we need to look at other activities that person engages in while avoiding tasks, as well as the nature of the tasks that s/he avoids.

According to successful entrepreneur Paul Graham, there are three different categories of procrastination, which are classified based on the activities that you engage in instead of doing a designated task:

  1. You do nothing,
  2. You do something less important, or
  3. You do something more important.

So if you are a Type 3 procrastinator, this can actually be very beneficial!  Instead of grocery shopping or showering (eek!), you may be composing beautiful music or creating a great work of literature.

The reality is, whether good or bad, it’s simply human nature to procrastinate.  As such, we need to find ways to accept it and work with it instead of trying simplistic and ineffective ways to squelch it.  But how to explain that to a future employer?  It’s safe to say that bosses are not impressed by procrastination.  It’s commonly viewed as a sign of laziness, disorganization, and unreliability.  Some of these things may be true, to a degree.  However, it’s only fair to list some of the positive aspects of procrastination, to show how procrastinators can be characterized as passionate, driven, and highly creative.

  1. That Burst of Energy

What is the main reason we put off doing a task?

Because we don’t want to.  It’s that simple.

We put off tasks that we don’t enjoy doing, usually things that are difficult, unpleasant, or just plain boring.  Because of our lack of motivation, we don’t have much energy to accomplish these tasks.  The fear and adrenaline rush of a looming deadline suddenly gives us that energy we’ve been lacking.  In fact, this is one of the many hidden motives of procrastination.  When there is not much else to motivate, fear can always be counted on to do the trick.   The fear of consequences for missing a work deadline is indeed a powerful motivator.   This fear releases adrenaline, which naturally kills our pain and makes this otherwise painful task suddenly much easier. So procrastinators are actually pretty smart.  They are using their natural instincts of fear to gain the burst of energy they need in order to accomplish an unpleasant task.

How to make this “hidden” benefit of procrastination seem appealing to an employer?  Show him/her that you always get the work done on time even if it may be at the eleventh hour, and that you bring much more passion and energy to it than someone who does the job just so they can tick another item off their list.

  1. I Work Better Under Pressure!

How many times have you heard (or used) that excuse?  Well, it turns out that it may be true.

One of the greatest enemies to a procrastinator is distraction.  Email messages, social media notifications, phone calls, friends dropping by to chat:  we will seize on any or all of these things as a valid reason for not completing a task.  But if it’s the last possible minute, we have no choice but to deliver a laser focus to the task.  We will turn off our phone and sign out of Facebook in order to make sure that we can get it done.  And research shows that this kind of anxiety activates the part of our brain that heightens awareness so that we provide peak performance when there is something at stake.

And what to tell your boss about this one?  Show him/her that you have the ability to give such focus to a task that it can be done very well and thoroughly, even if it is the last minute.

  1. Faster Than a Speeding Bullet

Here is a hidden benefit to procrastination:  if you have less time, you get things done in less time.  By avoiding tasks that we don’t like, we ensure that this unpleasant, boring, brain-draining chore will only be in our lives for a short time.  That translates into more time spent on things that we enjoy.

And from the perspective of our employer, that means he/she can count on us when the pressure is on to get a task done quickly… because we’re used to that.

  1. I Haven’t Made a Decision Yet

Decision-making is one of those unpleasant tasks that we like to postpone.  But as it turns out, there may be very good reasons for this.  Giving yourself time to gather and process all the information and absorb new ideas can actually lead to unexpected insights and better decisions.

And from your employer’s standpoint, what’s not to love about an effective decision-maker?

  1. I’m Secretly a Creative Genius

Creative ideas take a long time to percolate. Da Vinci took 16 years to paint the Mona Lisa  because he kept getting distracted with other tasks.  It turns out that these “distractions” (such as experiments with optics) ultimately made him a much better painter.

While it’s not very realistic to expect your employer to give you 16 years to complete a project, it’s useful to recognize that some of the greatest, and most inspirational, accomplishments are also those that take the longest.

  1. Maybe I Just Won’t Have to Do It

This is the secret hope of every procrastinator.

“If I put it off long enough, maybe someone else will just do it instead.”

Well, in the workplace, this actually happens sometimes.  Eventually if that task keeps getting shoved farther and farther down your list, someone else may just step up and get it done, relieving you of what you had been dreading…thus freeing you up for jobs that offer you more inspiration.

While it may seem counter-intuitive, this can actually be seen as beneficial in the workplace.  More time for you can translate into more important tasks getting accomplished.

  1. A Job Well-Done… Kind of

For many procrastinators, the fear of failure is so severe that it causes them to leave a big task until the last possible minute.  Then, any inadequacies in the finished product can be blamed on a lack of time.  It forces those of us who are chronic perfectionists to give in and say:  “This is really the best I can do.”

I would say that any employer should be happy to have a staff member who will go to great lengths to avoid failure. Perfectionism is a desirable trait in an employee.

  1. Fewer unnecessary tasks

Very often, we are postponing tasks because they do not fit with our larger goals, our hopes and dreams for the future.

By postponing these non-essential tasks, we are leaving ourselves free for the work that really matters to us.

This can make us a more desirable employee because of our ability to prioritize.  We are able to accomplish the greater vision of what our job entails because we are not bogged down in petty details.

So… It’s Okay That I Procrastinate?

The bottom line is, whether good or bad, okay or not, procrastination is a complex behavior, and it will not just magically go away.  Therefore, it’s best to use it to your advantage.  There is definitely a strategy involved in “good” procrastination.  Use it to help you motivate or to reduce the time that you spend on routine tasks, so that you can spend more time on the things that really matter.

A little procrastination for the right reasons can be beneficial.  But make sure that when it comes to high-priority projects, you plan ahead and give yourself deadlines along the way to produce that energy-boosting adrenaline rush.

And put that awesome, crazy, procrastinator energy to work where it counts.

Want more tips about how to make your defects and quirks work for you in the workplace? Follow us on LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube.

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Samantha Wilson, guest writer

Samantha Wilson, guest writer

Author Bio:

Samantha Wilson is an irrepressible writer from http://www.essay-writing-place.com/. She is passionate about languages, cats and books. A favorite phrase of her father has become her guideline in life: “Every book is like a string of your heart – once you touch it, you will always remember the feeling”. Don’t be shy to write a line to her on Twitter.

Posted May 10, 2016 by

How to select a career mentor

When you graduate from college, you lose daily, immediate access to some of your greatest mentors and teachers—faculty members, advisors, and career services professionals who have guided you through some of the best and most formative years of your life. When starting your first entry-level, full-time job, it’s important to begin seeking out a career mentor.

This five-minute video, created by College Recruiter’s Content Manager, Bethany Wallace, will help you select a quality career mentor.


If the video is not playing or displaying properly click here.

There are at least two types of mentors you need to find, ideally, when you begin your first full-time, entry-level job. The first type of mentor you need to find is a workplace mentor. This mentor works for the same company or organization but has at least a few years of experience under her belt. She probably works for the same team or within the same division and can provide you with guidance related to company policies and procedures, the ins and outs about how to make coffee in the breakroom, and other important tips about surviving on a daily basis within your organization.

This video and article will help you select the other—and more important—type of mentor: a career mentor. A career mentor is a lifelong mentor; your career mentor has years of experience, preferably decades of experience, and works in your “dream career field.” A career mentor will provide career guidance and mentorship over the course of your career journey. When selecting a career mentor, be picky. You should spend at least a few months observing professionals and contemplating “fit” before asking someone to serve as your career mentor.

Here are a few tips to aid you in selecting your career mentor.

1. Look for elevator people.

Elevator people are defined as people who bring you up, while basement people bring you down. This trait is especially important in mentors. When you’re asking someone for advice and guidance, you don’t want to leave every conversation feeling controlled, manipulated, deflated, or picked apart. Not only does that type of relationship sound very unhealthy, but it’s also completely unproductive. Seek out a career mentor who lifts others up. Is the mentor you’re considering territorial with her ideas? Does she appear jealous when you discuss something you’re working on that’s exciting to you? Move on and consider option B.

2. Go for the “gel.”

Can you completely relax when talking to your career mentor? This doesn’t mean you need to think of your career mentor as a peer; she’s not. You should have a great amount of respect for your career mentor.  Competent communication is defined as communication that is both effective and appropriate. Of course you want to interact with your mentor with an appropriate level of respect; you won’t talk to your mentor about the party you hosted Saturday night or your conflict with your boyfriend. You discuss those matters with your personal friends.

But it is crucial to select a career mentor you “gel” with. Can you be honest about your career goals, or do you feel intimidated to discuss the future? Are you afraid your career mentor will laugh at your dreams? When you make mistakes at work (and don’t worry—every new entry-level employee makes mistakes), do you feel comfortable confessing those mistakes to your career mentor and seeking advice about how to overcome them? If not, you probably need to consider seeking out a new career mentor.

3. Find a great listener.

Motivational speakers may seem inspiring when you meet them, but remember when seeking a career mentor, you must find someone who can listen as much as she talks. You’re going to come up against obstacles over the course of your career journey, and it’s important that your career mentor listen well (without placing judgment). Only excellent listeners can offer excellent feedback and suggestions. Great career mentoring relationships tend to look alike—be sure yours matches up.

4. Reflect on your feelings.

Always reflect on your feelings after spending time with potential career mentors. Weigh pros and cons, make lists, and attempt to make a clear-headed decision before selecting a career mentor, certainly. But at the end of the day, relationships like this must be based at least partly on gut instinct. After going to lunch with your career mentor, do you feel better or worse? When you have a phone conversation, do you feel more positive or disheartened? Do you feel more motivated to go back to work and to try to reach your goals, or do you feel like taking the day off after talking to your mentor?

5. Don’t discount your feelings before you make the final decision about asking someone to serve as your mentor.

Lastly, when you decide to ask someone to serve as your career mentor, be gracious and grateful. Your career mentor is doing you a huge favor and will likely invest hours—if not days—of her life in yours. Mine has.

For more advice about starting your first full-time job off right, read our blog and follow us on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, and YouTube.