Your to-do list is growing larger.. pile of papers on your desk is not ready yet ..the red light of deadlines is getting on your nerves.. Welcome to the realm of procrastination!
We were brought up on the proverb “never put off until tomorrow what you can do today” which targets the essence of procrastination, yet applying it is not that easy.
A procrastinator is not a lazy person who has been doing nothing, instead, he is overwhelmed by a quarrel deep within and stress is affecting his whole system because of not getting things done. People who struggle with procrastination may spend hours distracting themselves instead of addressing obligations that require time and effort.
Needless to say that everyone has put off a task at some point in their life, but are all of us can relate to the same category of procrastinators?
There’s no single type of a procrastinator. Chronic procrastinators have perpetual problems finishing tasks, while situational ones delay based on the task itself. A perfect storm of procrastination occurs when an unpleasant task meets a person who’s high in impulsivity and low in self-discipline.
But is it the inability to manage time or the inability to regulate moods and emotions that create the gap between intention and action?
It has long been believed that people who procrastinate have a faulty sense of time — that they think they will have more time to get something done than they actually do. On the other hand, there is another suggestion that procrastination is linked to difficulty managing distress. Specifically, it seems that task aversion is to blame — that is, when people view a task in an unpleasant manner (“It will be tough, boring, painful…”), they are more likely to put it off.
While procrastinators may be trying to avoid distress, this approach can ironically cause more distress in the long run. Procrastination can lead to increased stress, health problems, and poorer performance. Procrastinators tend to have more sleep issues and experience greater stressful regret than non-procrastinators. What’s more, procrastination can also hinder your self-esteem with the guilt, shame, or self-critical thoughts that can result from putting off tasks.
But have you ever wondered why you — or others —procrastinate?
1- You aren’t qualified: self-doubt can be your biggest enemy. You may feel like the task is above your skill level. If there’s a steep learning curve, it can be hard to start. You start creating excuses; a bunch of them is ready (waiting inspiration.. waiting the right moment..waiting to be in the mood. Etc)
2- You don’t know the next task: If you don’t know what will happen after this step, you will procrastinate because you’re afraid of what comes next.
3- You don’t have a schedule: If you plan to start the task when you have time or feel motivated, you will put it off longer and longer
4- The task is uncomfortable: Many of the tasks we do are challenging and not fun, and those are the ones we find most difficult.
So, procrastination does not just happen or that it is a sort of entire laziness and distraction; it has its reasons, however, how to beat it remains the most important part:
- Get rid of catastrophizing
One of the biggest reasons people procrastinate is because they catastrophize, or make a huge deal out of something. It may be related to how tough, how boring, or how painful it will be to complete the task. In reality, challenges, boredom, and hard work will not kill you — or even make you sick. Procrastination, on the other hand, is associated with stress
2- Drop the perfectionism
Perfectionists are often procrastinators; it is psychologically more acceptable to never tackle a task than to face the possibility of falling short on performance. Perfectionism is an all-or-nothing mentality: Something is either perfect or it is a failure. People with perfectionistic tendencies tend to wait until things are perfect in order to proceed — so, if it’s not perfect, you cannot be finished. Or if it is not the perfect time, you believe you can’t start. This all-or-nothing mentality can hold you back from starting or completing tasks.
Instead, focus on being better than perfect. This means to still strive for excellence, creating excellence, or setting yourself up with excellent conditions, but at the same time, you focus on getting the job done.
3-Focus on your “why”
Procrastinators focus more on short-term gains (avoiding the distress associated with the task), as opposed to long-term results (the stress of not doing it, as well as the consequences of avoiding this task). Instead, try focusing on why you are doing this task: What are the benefits of completing it? And accept deadlines as your friend not a threat that makes you stressed and unable to think clearly. Encourage yourself by anticipating feeling sweetness of productivity and make it happen and by then all the load would be over.
4-Get rid of excuses
Do any of these sound familiar? “I need to be in the mood.” “I will wait until I have time.” “I work better under pressure.” “I need X to happen before I can start.”
Try to be the master of your mind; the one behind the wheel. Be honest with yourself, these are nothing but excuses. Sure, it might be nice to ”be in the mood,” but waiting for that to happen can mean you never start your project. If you only procrastinate because the task is uncomfortable, schedule it first thing in the morning and start before you can object.
Finally, procrastination is not an epidemic or a plague; it is a quintessential breakdown of self-control which could be overcome with effort.