Procrastination: the thief of time
“The action of delaying or postponing something” (Oxford English Dictionary).
Procrastination is a trap that, according to researcher and speaker Piers Steel, 95 percent of us fall into to some degree. And, quite frankly, this is what I had been doing with this blog post
And my instagram account
And my billions of novel ideas
And... let's just say my life in general, shall we?
Procrastination may be confused with laziness, but the main difference is that procrastination is an active process of delaying important tasks. Tasks that will probably benefit you.
Already, minor cases of procrastination will leave you feeling guilty and ashamed, and maybe even reduce your productivity in general.
Whilst procrastination is not a mental illness by itself, it may be symptomatic of a psychological disorder. It has a number of negative associations, such as depression, irrational behaviour, low self-esteem, anxiety and neurological disorders such as ADHD.
In order for me, and maybe also you, to stop procrastinating, I've looked up some tips and tricks to overcome procrastination.
Recognize that you're procrastinating
If you put aside an important task for a genuinely good reason, then you're not necessarily procrastinating. Nonetheless, you're procrastinating, if you:
put things off indefinitely
switch focus because you want to avoid doing something
fill your day with low-priority tasks
leave an item on your to-do list for a long time, even though it's important
read emails several times over without deciding what to do with them
start a high-priority task and then go off to make a coffee
fill your time with unimportant tasks that other people ask you to do, instead of getting on with the important tasks already on your list
wait to be in the "right mood," or wait for the "right time" to tackle a task
Work out why you're procrastinating
Before working on any issue you need to know the reasoning behind it.
Major reasons behind procrastination are: poor organization, overwhelmed by a task, being scared of failure (or success) , fearing it to turn out imperfectly, poor decision-making and, like mentioned before, your mental health.
Adopt anti-procrastination strategies
Procrastination is a deeply-ingrained behavioural habit and therefore can't be broken overnight. To actually break out of this habit you have to avoid practicing it. Some of the following strategies may help you with that.
Forgive yourself for procrastinating in the past
Studies have shown that self-forgiveness can make you feel better about yourself and reduce the likelihood of procrastinating again.
Commit to the task
Find an exact time at which you need to work at a specific issue and then focus on doing it instead of avoiding it.
Promise yourself a reward
Reward yourself with a treat after completing an important task, and make sure to notice how good it feels to finish a task.
Ask someone to check on you
Whilst peer pressure is often viewed as something negative, it can be helpful. As soon as you get with productive people (e.g. in a study group) you'll find yourself being productive as well.
Don't let it sit still
As soon as you get a task focus on finishing it, instead of letting it build up.
Rephrase your internal dialogue
The phrases "need to" and "have to," for example, imply that you have no choice in what you do. This can make you feel disempowered, and might even result in self-sabotage. However, saying, "I choose to" implies that you own a project, and can make you feel more in control of your workload.
Turn off any unnecessary electrical devices, put your phone on airplane mode, and avoid sitting near a television whilst you're completing your task.
The best comes at last
Finish tasks that you find unpleasant early This way you'll have the rest of your time for more enjoyable tasks.
If you procrastinate because a task is unpleasant, just think of the long-term effect of it. It may help you to visualize the meaning and relevance of that task.
Organise your life
If you're a disorganized person, try making to-do lists, scheduling your work, setting time goals, and completing harder tasks at your peak hour.
Break big projects into chunks
If you find yourself overwhelmed by all the work you have to do, try dividing your task in order tackle it one part after another.
Always remember that what works for others doesn't necessarily work for you.
Like I mentioned before, I'm still a pro at procrastinating, but I'll be trying to break this habit with you. And maybe if I come back as an Ethereal contributor, I'll give you an update on how this worked out for me.
But for now I wish you a lot of luck at breaking your unhealthy habit, whatever it may be.
“To do anything in this world worth doing, we must not stand back shivering and thinking of the cold and danger, but jump in and scramble through as well as we can."
– Syndey Smith