Deal with procrastination
Everyone has to deal with procrastination on occasion at different levels. Some people may be chronic procrastinators, while others enjoy working under the pressure of multiple projects and deadlines. Procrastination has nothing to do with being a lazy person. It can be associated with just running out of time to complete assignments or tasks, or just a matter of taking on too many responsibilities.
Many of the things that we end up procrastinating about usually identify with being boring, difficult, overwhelming, or complicated. A high percentage of people procrastinate, because they simply feel overwhelmed. When you feel overwhelmed, it’s almost like a defense mechanism being triggered, and you may begin to procrastinate, and deadlines become harder to meet.
Procrastination means the habit of putting off what you can do now to a later date. When you procrastinate, you are putting off the completion of a task, project, or responsibility that has some benefit to you. However, you have more energy to put off what needs to be done than actually doing what needs to be done for an unexplained reason. Studies have shown that 9 out of 10 people practice procrastination. Procrastination is practiced more often than we think.
Five negative effects of procrastination
1. Morale is broken down as you feel the effects of a job left uncompleted.
2. Efficiency is diminished by the clutter left from unfinished jobs.
3. Stress levels can increase as jobs that are procrastinated can start to accumulate and become due at the same time.
4. Others can view you as lazy and having a lack of interest in the job at hand.
5. As jobs are postponed, it becomes more unpleasant to complete.
Causes and remedies for procrastination
Cause: You may be having trouble getting started.
Remedy: Start small. Complete one small part of the task at hand to get your energy flowing. Once you begin, the flow will continue on completing more and more of the task. Getting started is the hardest part, but the road to completion will become easier once you do.
Example: If your goal is to lose weight and begin an exercise program, start with doing just 10 minutes three times per week. Slowly increase this time until you are doing 20-30 minutes three times per week. Starting out slow will give you the determination to stick to the plan.
Cause: You may view the task as being too complex, and you become unable to get started on the task, followed by a feeling of being overwhelmed.
Remedy: Take the task and separate it into smaller parts that are manageable for you throughout today and the following days. Some people work better when an enormous task is divided into smaller sections allowing for a great feeling of completion, which will move them on the road to goal accomplishment.
Example: When given a large project to complete at work, review the entire project, then ask yourself this question first – “What is the easiest means for me to get started on this project?” Once you’ve identified this – JUST DO IT!
Cause: Feeling of Failure to Achieve Goal
Remedy: Break a goal down into short-term goals that are achievable by realistic deadlines.
Remedy: Write down the task that needs to be completed. You can use something like a “to do” list, or use a weekly or monthly planning calendar. Put the steps of the task in priority order. This will give you a feeling of organization and a distinctive process to follow in completing the task.
Cause: Lack of Time
Remedy: This is a popular excuse, but being busy does not necessarily mean you are productive. If you feel you lack time, it is most likely due to lack of organization, prioritizing, or the ability to say ‘no’ to taking on more tasks. Be responsible for your time to become more efficient. You’ll be surprised at how many hours you actually do have in a day.
Cause: Being too Hard on Yourself
Remedy: Don’t hold procrastination against yourself. Forgive yourself and move on planning out what tasks need to be done in a day.
Cause: Unable to Prioritize
Remedy: Schedule work to be done and specific times and do it. Stick to your schedule, whether you like it or not, because you will like the results in the end.
Cause: Low Value Placed on Tasks
Remedy: Relate a task to something that is attractive to you. Give yourself rewards for completing certain steps towards the task, and issuing punishment for any procrastination.
Cause: Not Being Accountable for Taking Action
Remedy: You may tend to slack in completing a task, especially if you are only responsible to yourself and not someone else. Try asking someone for assistance in monitoring your progress and holding you accountable.
Cause: Thinking you have to be a Perfectionist
Remedy: Always remember that nothing is always perfect, and sometimes it doesn’t have to be. It just has to be the best that you have to offer. Accept your fears and anxieties about the task at hand, but don’t let it get in the way of your accomplishments. It is never ‘all or nothing’.
Cause: Fear of Failure or Success
Remedy: Fear of the final outcome of the task can be debilitating. You may have a fear of not being able to do the task perfectly or not meet the standards of completion, which can delay your progress. Some may fear success. Success may lead to other options that maybe you don’t think you are ready for. To avoid this fear, define clearly the consequences of completing or not completing the task you are responsible for.
Cause: Hating the Task.
This usually happens if you identify the task as dull, monotonous, or involving too much hard work.
Remedy: Break the task down into smaller, manageable sections and give yourself one small task to work on at a time. Remember, rewards are always great, especially for challenging tasks that you really don’t want to complete.
Cause: Fear of Change
Remedy: Change is hard, but it is essential to progress. Accept that change is hard, but tell yourself to be flexible and excited about change. Once you accept how you feel, and know that it is just a process you have to go through, procrastination can diminish.
Myths about Procrastination
A shared myth about procrastination is telling us that there is a valid reason for putting off working on and completing a specific task. The reality is that this is just an excuse, because we don’t want to put effort into concentrating on working on the task. There are four most commonly identifiable procrastination myths:
Myth 1: “I work better under pressure.”
The reality is that procrastination directly affects performance. When you try to complete tasks at the last minute, such as cramming for a big test by studying late into the night the day before the test, is not being efficient. Planning out your tasks, which allows you to pace yourself, is more efficient than waiting to the last possible moment to complete a task.
Myth 2: “I need to be inspired or in the right mood.”
This is procrastination in disguise. You need to get to work without waiting for ideas of inspiration to manifest in your mind. Inspiration occurs when you are disciplining yourself to do what you need to do to complete the task. When you do, you will be inspired.
Myth 3: “I need uninterrupted time to work on this task.”
Myth 4: “I’ll be able to do a much better job on this assignment tomorrow.”
Procrastination can be a way of lying to yourself and removing yourself from reality. This is the reality:
- If you do not start taking steps to become more effective and productive today, it will be worse tomorrow as you crunch for time.
- If you do not take small steps to discipline yourself today, you will not be disciplined tomorrow.
- If you do not become organized today, the disorganization will only become worse tomorrow.
Ways to Beat Procrastination
There may be times when procrastination can be very hard to overcome. Here is a process you can use to accomplish those tasks:
- Make a list of all the tasks that you need to do, but have been putting off.
- Next to each item, write down your excuses for not completing it. Maybe it’s a financial issue, or you don’t think you are qualified, whatever the reason, write it down.
- Next to the excuses, write down the benefits that you presently enjoy, due to the fact that you are practicing procrastination on important tasks. There are benefits, because otherwise the tasks would be completed already.
- Look at your excuses and benefits for each item that you have procrastinated about. Does it really make sense? Are these excuses being emphasized by benefits? Are the benefits really that important and enough to make you stick to your excuses?
An item on your list may look like this:
Task (Compare excuses with benefits)
Item – Learn Spanish
Excuse – Do not have enough education
Benefit – Have more money if not spending on education and more time to do other things that I want to do instead of being in school.
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Deal with procrastination: assignment
- Look over your list. Keeping the excuses and benefits in mind, decide which of the tasks you really want to do or need to do to accomplish the task. Highlight those tasks.
- Once you have accepted these things, and realize that it is okay for you to say that you don’t really want that goal, give it up. If it is not important to you, there is no need to waste your time on something that you have a choice about.
Procrastination is not harmless. It has the power to destroy careers, marriages, and businesses. Change your attitude and habits of doing things later, to doing something now. It will make you feel better in the long term. If you really can’t fight the procrastination on one task, complete another task and come back later to the task you procrastinated about. Accomplishing things gives you more confidence and determination to be productive.