“Never do today what you can put off for tomorrow. Better yet, never put off until tomorrow what you can avoid altogether!”
Do these lines resonate with you? Is that how you live your life? What makes you procrastinate?
It is so easy to say, ‘I’ll do this tomorrow.’ But that tomorrow never dawns. Soon the deadline creeps up on us and we begin to panic. Does this scenario sound familiar? Procrastination is an easy habit to fall into. Why do we fall into this procrastination trap from time to time?
Reasons for procrastination:-
- Fear of failure– Fear of failure can be paralysing. You may even convince yourself that it is better to avoid doing something than face failure.
- Fear of success – Even though success is a positive stimulation, some people tell themselves that if they succeed at something, others’ expectations will rise and they will set too high standards for them, which eventually will be impossible to maintain.
Famous motivational speaker, Denis Waitley says, ‘Procrastination is the fear of success. People procrastinate because they are afraid of the success that they know will result if they move ahead now. Because success is heavy, carries a responsibility with it, it is much easier to procrastinate and live on the someday I’ll philosophy.’
- Fear of disapproval – Many a time, because of under-confidence, we fear disapproval of our work and we shy away from doing it.
- Perfectionism – A perfectionist ends up thinking, ‘Why do something if it cannot be done perfectly?’ Perfectionism often results in perfectly executed tasks but unfortunately it also means delay in starting or finishing the work.
- Boredom – How do you motivate yourself to do something that you do not like?
- Anger – Procrastination can be an unhealthy way of reacting to people and situations.
- Lack of skills and information– You don’t start something because you can’t. You do not have the know-how and you do not want to admit it or make that extra effort to get it.
- Distractions – Distractions can be mental (you have had an altercation with someone), environmental (the neighbours are having a party and the music is too loud), or physical (you are too hungry to concentrate on work).
There are various styles of procrastination. These are:-
- You find it difficult to organize thoughts and actions.
- You find it difficult to keep on track with your plans.
- You find the task so overwhelming that you decide that it is futile to even try.
- You put things off to punish others.
- Routine and scheduled work makes you rebellious.
Just as there are various styles of procrastination, there are various types of procrastinators:-
- Self-doubter – These people feel that they will surely fail. Hence they delay taking the action.
- Discomfort-dodger – These people avoid any task that causes them discomfort, distress or anxiety. Ironically, their delay tactics don’t make these feelings go away. So tensions keep mounting.
- Guilt-driven – These people feel guilt over tasks not done. However instead of doing the tasks and correcting the original course of inaction, they continue to procrastinate.
- Habitual – These people procrastinate all the time. It has become a habit with them. It becomes an ingrained automatic response to say, ‘This is too hard.’ Or ‘I am too tired.’
Once you recognize your style of procrastination, you can take steps to control it. One of the most important things you can do for yourself is to get organised.
- Make a list of what needs to be done.
- Prioritize these tasks.
- Break large projects into smaller tasks.
- Set aside time for each task.
- Bite off only what you can chew.
- Just do it! Next time you think of putting off your task for later, think of Nike’s famous slogan. The feeling that you get after finishing a task is far more satisfying than any temporary sense of relief you experience while putting off the action for another time.
- Schedule reward time for yourself. When you know that after finishing a task you have to do, you will get to do something that you love to do you will feel motivated to complete that task. The rewards are manifold. You will be able to enjoy your leisure time better now that the pressure of the task is off your head.
- Does the thought of doing a task fill you with anxiety? In such a case, deep breathing for a minute really helps. Inhale to the count of five and then exhale to the count of five. Do it five times, you will feel less anxious. Now work for some time. Just the very action will reduce your anxiety about the work.
- Change your expectations from your self. Just do the work to the best of your ability, with complete sincerity. Don’t punish yourself by expecting too much of yourself or by comparing yourself with others.
- Provide a momentum to your work by starting with small tasks and physically striking them off your list (thus providing yourself a visual confirmation of your action). As your list gets shorter, you will be more enthused to work.
inally remember that if something can go wrong, it will. Allot yourself ample time to carry out a task. If you are able to finish it before time, it will give you a psychological impetus for your future endeavours. Don’t panic if you get behind schedule. Be flexible. Ask for some extra time. Take help from your colleagues or friends. Delegate tasks. Re-schedule your other appointments. Drop non-essential tasks from your list. There is no problem that can’t be solved, no task that can’t be completed and no habit that can’t be changed – once you have changed your outlook.
Procrastination can be overcome with a little more organization and better time management. You can start the process now and you will be surprised to note how much better you feel about yourself. Once you have crossed the mental barrier, you will be surprised at the joy, exhilaration, satisfaction, peace of mind and success hidden at the other side of procrastination.
Someone has very rightly said that ‘I CAN’ is 100 times more important in your success than ‘IQ’. So get off your rear, get into gear and forget your fear.
Co-create your life and expect success.
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