Understanding Procrastination And How To Beat It
Have you ever sat down to complete an important task only to suddenly find that you’re loading the dishwasher, checking Facebook or completely engrossed in an episode of Downton Abbey? When we procrastinate, we can find a multitude of things to do (often even stuff we don’t actually enjoy) rather than getting to work. Sometimes procrastination can be harmless. Take doing the laundry, for example. While it’s a chore that we must all perform, it’s not necessarily one that will wreak havoc in our lives should it be put off for a couple days.
However, procrastination is a nasty practice that can become more habitual over time if not contained and managed. While the list of things we can procrastinate about is endless, the reasons as to why we procrastinate them are not. Some researchers have linked procrastination with resistance to stepping out of our comfort zone, while others simply connect it to laziness or poor time management. Whatever the reason may be for you, it is possible to overcome procrastination with a bit of awareness, effort and self-control.
Here are the five key reasons for Procrastination:
Viewing a project as one big task can make it seem way more daunting than it actually is. Nearly everything we take on can be broken down into smaller, more manageable parts. Writing a speech is a great task to exemplify. By completing one part at a time (think intro, body, conclusion, etc.), you’ll eventually find yourself with a finished piece. The task in its entirety may feel overwhelming, but once it’s split down into smaller activities it can be much easier and less stressful to handle.
The hardest part of any given task can often just be starting it. Many individuals may find it a struggle to properly designate the commitment and energy required or may simply overestimate the deadline they’ve been given. Overcome this by learning to better structure your time. Expose the starting and ending points of a task and then move forward to fill in the blanks in between. By doing so, you’ll provide a path for motivation and be able to better hold yourself accountable. This will also help to cut out large blocks of unproductiveness that may otherwise arise during unscheduled time.
Sometimes, being a perfectionist works in your favor. However, it’s also a trait that can hinder performance and make it tempting to put things off merely because you’re worried about the outcome being anything less than flawless. Just know that it’s okay if things don’t turn out exactly how you had once envisioned them to. Plus, any completed task, even if imperfect, is better than an uncompleted task. Instead of letting your obsession with details take up much of your time, focus on the ultimate purpose of your tasks and push forward.
At times we can make a project seem harder than it actually is. Similar to procrastinating due to fear of imperfection, it can also be common for us to put tasks aside because of a general fear of failing. You can’t fail at something you don’t actually do, right? However, this is a very unproductive and negative way of thinking. So next time you find yourself putting something off to avoid a potential failure, instead face your fears and tackle it head on. Whether it be a success or not, either way you’ll grow as a person.
It’s also quite common to put off activities that you know you’re just not going to enjoy doing. This is actually the number one reason that many of us find ourselves procrastinating. While it’s totally okay for this to happen from time to time (hey, we’re human), don’t let it become a regularly accepted behavior. Procrastination can also be linked to the need to feel in control of our lives, hence urging us to rebel in attempt to do things (or not do them) on our own terms. The key to overcoming this roadblock is getting in touch with the root of your defiance.
Shift your mindset: Less procrastination and more action
- Complete your least desirable task first thing each day.
- Focus on 3-5 main goals and break them down into smaller tasks.
- Reward yourself after each task.
- Visualise the long-term impact that will come from you acting now.
Which of these are stopping you from moving on with what you need to get done? How do you keep yourself from putting things off?