Is procrastination your problem? Pay attention. These tips can help you get rid of those ugly habits and organize your time better!
Believe it or not, everyone has this problem to some extent. If you also postpone your important obligations until their completion becomes urgent, you can be sure that you belong to that club. You are familiar with the situation when you put off buying a birthday present until you find yourself buying it just before the event and then get upset because it doesn’t fit the picture you imagined or because you can’t even find an adequate gift?
Do you do everything at the last minute?
You are not the only one.
20% of people claim to have these habits and that procrastination is a part of their daily lives.
Definition of Procrastination
Procrastination as a phenomenon is extremely widespread and deeply rooted in society. It comes from the Latin words pro (“forward”) and crastinus (“until the next day”), ie the word cras (“tomorrow”) and implies the choice of postponing the action, although we expect that it will not affect the increase of our interests and goals, either material (e.g. money) or psychological (e.g. happiness). Despite certain inconsistencies, most researchers agree that procrastination is something that is very common and something that needs to be overcome in order to live more successfully and happily.
Recently, a comprehensive definition of this phenomenon has been proposed as “voluntary postponement of planned and necessary and / or (personally) important activities, despite the expectation of possible negative consequences that outweigh the positive consequences of postponement”.
What Is Procrastination?
It is actually a synonym for postponing obligations. Seen from the side, postponing commitments until the last moment may seem like laziness to some. In the head of someone who has a problem with procrastination, the problem is much more complex. Not only does this person not feel lazy, but on the contrary – he feels overwhelmed with work, but his productivity is desperate.
Procrastination is not a new phenomenon, but it has certainly reached its peak with the development of social networks and the Internet, and you have certainly fallen into this trap at least once. That’s when you know you have to finish something, but you put it off by focusing on some other less important tasks that are more fun and enjoyable for you. For example, you have to finish some chore, but you have an urgent need to take a peek at Facebook for just one minute.
Of course, it will never be just a minute because you will always find countless things that will attract your attention. You get the job done quickly later or do not do it at all. Professionally postpone it for tomorrow!
Not only are social networks a big hindrance but also the internet itself. How many times have you caught yourself looking for something in order to satisfy your curiosity on the internet, and stay for hours researching the topic? But hey! It’s not unimportant, it’s all important information that you need right away and that you would otherwise forget to check. In the meantime, you have learned all the details about the subject of your curiosity – both the important and the irrelevant, and completely neglected the task you really needed to do.
This kind of behavior becomes a habit and a way of life very easily because in moments of delay we do things that are more pleasant to us than our obligations. Sometimes the cause is irresponsibility and negligence, but it is not always so.
What Are the Other Causes of Procrastination
- Feeling uncomfortable. Emotions trigger many things in our lives, even procrastination. Procrastination is often caused by the postponement of an unpleasant feeling. For example, this happens when you put off some hard physical work because it will exhaust you, or learning and completing a business task because an assessment of knowledge or skills awaits you, and that is not always a pleasant experience.
- Lack of skills is another reason for procrastination that prevents the fulfillment of obligations. Therefore, when you do not know how to do it, the task becomes more difficult and unpleasant, although it is not necessarily insurmountable. You can always learn a skill you don’t have or ask for help from someone who has it. Still, you procrastinate indefinitely because it’s easier to sweep a problem under the carpet than to put in the extra effort and solve it.
- Lack of motivation. The job is twice as hard when you are not adequately rewarded in return, whether it’s monetary compensation or emotional satisfaction. That is why you postpone obligations and do what brings a quick reward and a feeling of satisfaction.
- Perfectionism often leads to procrastination. For example, those situations when you have a great idea in your mind, but you delay its realization because not all the pieces match, because you are not in the mood, because it seems that the time is not right and there are no conditions for achieving goals. Sometimes such reasons for postponing work are reasonable, but if we do this everyday, they are often conceited and just a bad excuse.
- Disorganization and work overload. Too many commitments may not always be a reason to do them as soon as possible. On the contrary, you can easily get into a situation where you spend more time complaining that you don’t have time to finish the job, than really working towards solving your problem.
Each of us has some bad moments and the day when things are not going well for us, so we leave things for some brighter days. Then, when you see the ease of postponing obligations in relation to their completion, you can very easily become a real artist of procrastination.
These are the people who are able to invent 100 reasons to do something else at the moment and 100 excuses why that is more important than what they need to finish.
A good procrastinator has the following characteristics:
- He fulfills his day with irrelevant obligations and at the end of the day, he asks “How did I spend the day? I didn’t do anything?“
- He plans to start multiple jobs at once and stays on merely looking at the plan. He does not take steps to achieve at least some of the goals.
- He feels hungry, thirsty, or has a sudden need to replenish energy with a cup of coffee when starting a difficult task.
- He is waiting for the right time to complete the task, although that time never comes. When it has finally come, there is usually very little of it so the job ends up being done under stress.
Looking at the phone or playing games instead of finishing work may seem like fun, but in the head of a person who postpones obligations it is not relaxation, but constant tension due to the obligations that await her.
It Is Easier To Escape From Problems Than To Solve Them
The fact is that behind every procrastination there is a need to get something done. Sometimes you have to confront it and solve the problem, and sometimes the obligation has no deadline, so it is easier to sweep it under the carpet and bury it with some less important things and excuses.
Things swept under the carpet don’t go away. They are ready to wait for you, and they can grow!
This is, for example, the case when you postpone the payment of a debt for tomorrow, and in the end, you accumulate interest you have to pay on it.
In terms of some delays, I broke all records in my life. Taking the driving test was an obligation that I had been procrastinating for so long that I really don’t even know when I started considering its realization. Anyway, I passed it the first time I took it, although I was already over 30 years old.
Today, I avoid driving the same way. Mere passing the driving test is nothing without practice and routine, and I persistently find reasons for someone else to drive me because: I’m not in a good mood, because the car isn’t in perfect condition, because it’s cheaper for me to take public transport or taxi at the price of a bus ticket than to pay or look for a free parking lot and because it is much healthier to be active and go on foot.
It is the same with other, everyday obligations in life. Let’s say I want to write an article, but suddenly I have to find out why my Google+ account deletes posts from my blog, and then I discover seventeen more things related to that problem and throw myself into solving them even though I know writing awaits me. If by any chance you could take a look at my browser history now, you would find that I have an obsessive-compulsive disorder of clicking on my email and Facebook account on average every 2-3 minutes, even when I don’t expect anything on them. At the same time, I have a guilty conscience because I am not doing what I set out to do.
What happens as a result of all this?
I spent the whole day on the computer, and I could have had a free afternoon! I work until the evening, and then the brain is so tired of the useful and useless information it has received that writing doesn’t really go well. I put things off for the morning, determined to change myself starting from tomorrow.
Are you familiar with this pattern of behavior?
Procrastination is not a problem if it happens occasionally. Feel free to attribute this to unpreparedness or a bad mood. It is a problem when it becomes your habit.
What Are the Consequences of Procrastination?
Procrastination seems like an easy problem to solve. It only takes a little good organization, right? But it’s a bad habit like any other. Addiction, so to speak!
It is easy to change someone who has a habit of putting off work just as much as it is easy to convince a smoker to quit smoking!
Like any other bad habit, this one has bad consequences, can cause big problems, and affect the quality of your life for worse, and here are a few examples:
- It creates unnecessary stress. When you postpone your obligations, you put yourself in a situation where you have to finish them in too short a time and create unnecessary pressure and nervousness for yourself. You are angry because you do not have time and even more angry because you know that you had it in abundance but you spent it in vain.
- It prevents you from making progress. Procrastination and inability to make decisions will not push you forward or help you make progress. On the contrary, there is every chance that, waiting for your chance, you will stumble in the same place or miss everything.
- It destroys you professionally and makes you irresponsible. When you do things on time, you do them carefully. Procrastination can lead to you not completing your responsibilities on time. Even if you meet the deadline, you work fast and your work is not of good quality, and that affects your reputation.
- You are lying to yourself. Lying to others is one thing, but lying to yourself is already a really special category of self-deception. Procrastinators usually have an excuse to postpone their work because it is difficult for them and they cannot do it under pressure, so they are waiting for the right time. When it comes, there isn’t enough of it, they work fast and really work under pressure even though it wasn’t necessary. In other words, they are lying to themselves. Not only can they work successfully under pressure, but they actually create the conditions for it themselves.
- You are ruining your health. There are hundreds of studies that talk about how stress affects the immune system. Consciously or not, by postponing your obligations you endanger your health, you are more prone to catching a cold or viruses, you are more nervous, you are more prone to mood swings and stomach problems.
Can Procrastination Be Cured?
Postponement of obligations is not a problem that arose overnight, but a habit and a way of life. For that reason, the treatment of procrastination is not quick and easy.
To begin with, in order to get rid of this ugly habit and finally get some rest from yourself, you need to identify your problem. Accept the fact that you have to finish the obligation and that turning your back on problems is not the solution, but just an act of postponing it.
Find out why you’re actually procrastinating, then take action:
- If the problem is a lack of motivation, find something that motivates you. Reward yourself for the completed task! Finish your work in the morning so that you can go out for a cup of coffee with your friends in the afternoon, treat yourself to a bar of chocolate, or some other treat. Well, in this second case, don’t overdo it!
- If the problem is a too difficult task, break it down into smaller commitments and finish one by one.
Do the most difficult task first, while you are still not tired of too many obligations and while your concentration is excellent. Other tasks, which are easier, will go smoothly afterward.
- If your problem is a poor organization, make a planner with the tasks you need to do and put it in a visible place. Cross out those commitments you complete, watch the hill of your commitments shrink and enjoy it.
Try to turn things around. Instead of starting with the most difficult task, start with some small tasks that are completed quickly to get the feeling of achieving the desired result faster and to make the reward look closer.
- If your problem is a lack of skills, find a partner. Share responsibilities. Working in a company can be more fun. Besides, if you see someone next to you achieving goals, it will be stupid of you not to reach your own. Awaken your competitive spirit.
- Change the environment. Colors, light, atmosphere, noise… it all affects us even though we are not aware of it. Try to change the environment in which you work and you may be more productive.
- Do nothing. This is a great trick to try. Put yourself in a situation where you don’t have to do anything. Sometimes it’s just the fact that you have to do something that repels you most. For example, if you need to write a text, it is best to leave the house and get rid of the phone and the Internet. Many other things will occupy you in the house. Outside, you may find yourself in a situation where you simply have nothing to do and you will do what you need to do out of boredom.
- Turn off email notifications and Facebook events on your computer and phone. There is every chance that the world will not stop if you do not notice them immediately. Personally, I made sure that I could be out of the house all day, come back in the evening and miss only 3 irrelevant emails and a couple of side notifications on social networks. If I was at home, I would spend 2 hours checking them and so much more time and attention would distract me from some other, important things.
- Tell people about your responsibilities. Don’t complain and annoy the people around you because they will start to see you as an energy vampire, but let them know what you are doing and what obligations you are completing. Better yet, blog about it! Wouldn’t it be pointless for someone to ask you what you did in terms of the obligations you had, and you don’t have a ready-made success story?
- Suspend irrelevant obligations. When you catch yourself doing unimportant things, don’t finish them, but stop them. It is the same with the obligations you have. If you see that your goals are wrong, give them up.
- Make sure you at least start the task, even if you work on it for 5 minutes. It is very likely that you will stay on it longer than that and finish at least part of the job, and maybe all of it.
- Hang out with positive and successful people who really achieve their goals. They will motivate you to move, not to procrastinate.
If procrastination begins to disrupt your life, and you do not know how to help yourself, seek professional help.
When you have a habit of procrastinating, life takes control over you and you don’t have any control. It affects not only you but also the people around you who find it increasingly difficult to rely on you. When you react immediately and finish your obligations, the strings are still in your hands.