Busting the Procrastination Myth: Some of us really do work better under pressure

Posted July 11, 2013 in Latest News & Insights

I’m a grade A procrastinator. At least that’s what I’ve been told by my parents and psych assessment tests my entire life.  I was the person in school who wrote my essays the night before they were due and usually obtained one of the highest grades in the class (only to lose a bunch of marks to spelling and grammar errors… C’mon when you’re down to the wire, who has time to proofread??). I’ve always berated myself for not being better at “managing my time” and felt that somehow I was falling short because I wasn’t great at planning out my workload better therefore not being as productive as I “should” be.  That is until I did my Kolbe Index and discovered that I had been lied too about my “so-called” weakness of procrastination.

My friend Anna introduced me to Kolbe several years ago and frankly, I resisted it.  When you spend time in a leadership consulting firm, you become a guinea pig to trying out every psych test around.  I’d had my fill.  They all told me the same things… I’m innovative, tend to be disorganized, highly persuasive, good with people, lousy with sticking to structure… all in slightly different ways.  *Yawn*

Then, I found myself in a program last year that had everyone complete their Kolbe Index so I had to play along.  And the results were interesting.  Kolbe measures your CONATIVE ability.  What’s that, you ask?  Well, interestingly it’s HOW you choose to go about getting things done.  Your modus operandi, so to speak.  Other tests measure your IQ or EQ (MBTI and the like), and both these areas you can evolve over time.  (Eg: you can increase your IQ by learning more and you can change results of EQ-type tests through increased self-insight and adopting new behaviours.  I’ve done MBTI at least 6 times and have come out as an ENTJ, ENTP, INTP depending on the role I was in at the time).  Conative ability, aka “how” we get things done doesn’t really change overtime… it’s just the way we’re wired.  Do the Kolbe Index today or 10 years from now and there’s a 95% chance you’ll get the same result.  Kolbe measures on 4 modes.  Here’s what it looks like:

Kolbe

So, what has this to do with the lie that was told to me about procrastination?  Well, it turns out I’m very high on the Kolbe Index Quickstart (I score a 9 which makes me an Improviser).  People who operate in this mode work really well under pressure.  In fact, they work BEST in “bet you can’t” scenario’s and enjoy tight deadlines.  We get more focused and clear on what has to be delivered and then have the ability to work quickly to get it done.  Now, being a Kolbe Quickstart like me can cause lots of stress and angst to your colleagues who may be sitting at the Stabilize end of that mode.  I decided to have everyone on our team complete the Kolbe so that we could all get a sense of how we like to get things done.  It was probably one of the more useful team discussion exercises we’ve had and definitely helped everyone understand each other better.  As the Outlier in my group (my entire team is essentially the flip of my own style), it was incredibly helpful for all of us to see how our modes work/don’t work well with each other and as a result have given us a new language to work together.

So, if you relate to being a Quickstart, maybe all that time management propaganda that says you don’t really work well under pressure is a lie for you too.  I’ve discovered that knowing how you approach work is an important part of understanding your own strengths and has definitely helped me in working with my team.  Give it a try and see what you think.

Happy leading!


Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

2 Comments

  1. Nice to know I’m not the only super productive slacker 😉

  2. […] often try to rationalize their procrastination habits. There are a lot of people that claim to work well under pressure. There are others that claim to do their best under certain conditions or […]