We have all been there, delaying a task that needs to be completed by a certain deadline. A study from Nguyen, et. al (2013) found that for most of us, more than a quarter of our workday is taken up by forms of procrastination!
In the world of Medical Staff Services, this could mean not starting the reappointment application your provider signed the day you released it or waiting anxiously while members of your credentials committee complete their reviews the night before the meeting. In my previous role as an MSP, I would often delay processing files for a variety of reasons, but it almost always came down to prioritization, or so I told myself. On the flipside, while the credentials committee members were probably delaying completing their reviews for the same reason, it caused nothing but anxiety within our office. How one perceives procrastination is based on which side of the scenario you sit. According to Choi and Moran (2009) these examples would fall under active procrastination, which is defined as someone who decides to delay, preferring to work under the pressure of a deadline.
Did you know that anxiety and procrastination often appear together? Humans’ natural tendency is to put off things that make us anxious. Moving to a new platform on top of your regular duties as an MSP can cause anxiety in even the most seasoned professional. It is then natural to want to procrastinate and prioritize more familiar tasks, especially if the decision to change is out of our control.
Moving to a new credentialing software is no small undertaking. It is a complex project involving a myriad of tasks that takes many months or years of planning, training, data mapping and validation to smoothly transition. As a result, it can become easy to procrastinate throughout the process without realizing the larger ramifications. Ultimately, one must remember that time is a resource we cannot recover. When discussing procrastination with my colleague, Katie Fox, she pointed out that it is also important to remember the cascading effect procrastination can have between short-term and long-term goals. One way to avoid the dangers of procrastination during the implementation process is to clearly establish the impact that the timing of each short-term goal or activity can have on the larger, long-term goals and project timeline.
During a project we all know there are certain aspects and deadlines that are critical. However, what about those activities that seem minor? For example, we always recommend that clients “play around” within your new platform after training to help reinforce their learning. The scope of this activity can certainly seem like an overwhelming task. I know from experience! Learning the ins and outs of any new platform can be anxiety inducing, which can then result in looking for any reason to procrastinate. You tell yourself you can put off working in the system until your go-live date is closer, and instead focus on finishing up all those outstanding files. However, while initially this only seems like delaying a minor activity, the reality is you are also setting yourself up for potential failure in terms of your long-term goal for a smooth transition between platforms.
Ultimately, getting into your new platform wasn’t just one short-term goal you were procrastinating on, it was several. Getting into the platform allows you to better acclimate yourself with the new environment, increasing your overall knowledge and becoming more comfortable with how it functions. It also allows you to simultaneously validate your applications, workflows, letters, and data. As you can imagine with hundreds of providers to review and several potentially new processes to learn, this isn’t something that can be done in a day or even in a week; it takes time. That decision to procrastinate can now have serious ramifications. If things are not setup or working as expected at go-live or you don’t feel comfortable working in the new platform, what happens when you suddenly need to process those applications that were on hold during the change over? The last thing you want is to find out while processing an application is that your workflow is missing a step; your verifications are wrong; or your application didn’t collect all the information needed.
Are you currently in the middle of an implementation or project and this feels a little too close to home? Don’t worry! I have a few tips to help you overcome your procrastination.
Learning an entirely new platform is overwhelming and can leave you wondering where to even start. By breaking it down into smaller pieces you are giving yourself a specific task to focus on. An example of this could be reviewing your workflow, application or practicing completing an application from the provider’s perspective.
While there will be an overarching project plan, don’t be afraid to chart your own course! If there are certain areas of the platform that you know you will need more time to learn or that you will use more heavily, create your own plan tailored to your needs. While everyone learns differently, ultimately the more time you spend in the system, the more comfortable you will become.
Do this for everything, no matter how small. It can be something as simple as a reminder on your calendar. If that isn’t enough, include a colleague or someone else who you know will hold you accountable.
Humans tend to focus on what is going wrong over what is going right. We also tend to remember these negative situations better as well. It can be far too easy in the middle of a project to feel like nothing is going as planned. However, it is important to acknowledge and celebrate our wins. Did you finally get that letter to run as intended with its query? Celebrate that!
Whether or not you are looking to get a better handle on your short-term or long-term goals, or seeking the stamina needed to complete a hefty implementation, determining where you can reduce the natural tendency to procrastinate throughout the workday is a skill that will empower you and ultimately enable you to experience success in all that you do.
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