Procrastination is the habit of putting off the completion of tasks. It is a common and pervasive source of stress in contemporary society. How does procrastination cause stress? Procrastination is a stressor because it causes delays and can force people to cram at the last minute. This high-adrenaline state of cramming consequently leads to even more stress. What you will learn in this post: What are subtle forms of procrastination? What are the real reasons people procrastinate?
What are proven techniques for permanently ending procrastination? Do you identify with any of these behaviors? i. Performing easier tasks in favor of starting the more difficult ones. ii. Choosing pleasurable activities over more important activities. iii. Performing a series of less valuable activities so you won’t have to start on what you’re supposed to be doing.
If you find yourself indulging in these alternative activities, you are procrastinating. Did you know? I’ve heard that 99% of the time, people feel regret after they have procrastinated. True or not, procrastinating leaves people less time to complete what they should have started some time ago. They can even get into a bind with meeting a deadline. The sneaky thing about procrastinating is that a person may be satisfied and happy while is avoiding the task. The downside emerges when deadlines begin to close in. Now the procrastinator realizes and regrets that he has already spent most of the available time he had. Put into a frame: Why Put Off Today What You Will Regret Tomorrow?
Say somewhere: Get in the habit of asking yourself_ Is this the best use of my time at this moment? Tip: Be aware that you may encounter obstacles or outside interruptions that could curtail the time you estimated for completion of the task. Why do people procrastinate? In order to beat procrastination, we have to understand why people habitually resort to procrastination in the first place:
- Discomfort Discomfort may be mental, emotional, or physical. Can we agree on this: Any valuable endeavor or activity involves some level of discomfort? Getting out of our comfort zone — exerting effort and expending energy — is usually necessary to produce a meaningful outcome. A very low threshold for discomfort can cause a person to procrastinate, just to delay the experience. A low threshold for discomfort is the most common reason for putting off activities. But did you know? Most of the time, people are unaware of their discomfort thresholds. So, the choice to procrastinate is driven unconsciously by the desire to avoid discomfort. So if it’s unconscious, we have to go deep to eliminate it.
- Fear of a Fiasco Some adults are so afraid of failing they will postpone an activity, or procrastinate, for as long as they possibly can. A scary experience! When a person is afraid of failure, he may envision the worst possible outcome. The thought of falling short of his standard of achievement, accompanied by a whole array of mental and emotional discomforts, becomes an excuse for procrastinating. A general fear of failure often goes hand-in-hand with perfectionism. An individuals who believes his work must be absolutely perfect, is more likely to procrastinate.
- Fear of Rejection and/or Censure There are some situations where a fully capable adult becomes hesitant to do something because he feels someone, most like an authority figure, will disapprove of his actions. This fear is rooted in the belief that other people’s valuations are much more important than one’s self-valuation. For example, a person who has wanted to learn to play guitar may procrastinate indefinitely because he feels that other people will say that his music is clunky and out of tune.
- Refusal to Do Something When a person feels he is undertaking a task unfairly assigned to him, he will naturally avoid it as long as possible. Yet, as the inevitable deadline approaches, frustration and anger are likely to set in. The mental resistance to the task along with the time squeeze naturally lead to a higher stress level. All these attitudes and behaviors are self-defeating habits. The good news is that we can change habits. Read on to learn how. Essential Tips on Permanently Ending Procrastination If one or more of the reasons stated above applies to you, know that they are all just mental states. That means you can consciously override them in favor of more positive and productive behavior. Solutions that work: You can begin to override the tendency to procrastinate by following these steps.
Essential Tip #1: Don’t Over-think Over-thinking something is never a good choice. You are cycling the same thoughts in your mind, round and round. This is exhausting and it postpones any type of action. Instead of repeatedly thinking about doing something, “Just Do It!” Nike’s immortal slogan is the perfect motto for procrastination! I can recall when I would sit, staring into space, pondering with pencil in hand how to begin a letter or report. Just couldn’t come up with those elusive opening words. Then came the great motivator: Deadline pressure. I just started right in writing about what I knew I wanted to communicate. I decided the opening and any other revisions could come later. And that’s exactly what happened. Try it: Just get going with what you know you can do.
Essential Tip #2: Adjust Your Mindset If you identify at all with the procrastination we discussed earlier, you probably want to delay the discomfort of tension of doing the task. You just don’t like what you have to do. While you’re procrastinating, tell yourself this: ‘I’m not freeing myself of any discomfort. I’m just prolonging the discomfort!’ That’s what procrastinating is: prolonging the discomfort. You know all those things you have to do will be still be lingering in your mind, weighing you down. So, just go to it and get it done so you can lighten up! Essential Tip #3: Plan Ahead Are you worried or anxious about the outcome or your task?
You can erase uneasiness and any doubts with this tried & true strategy: Create an Action Plan. Consider preparing your Action Plan on paper rather than on a digital device. The physical act of writing helps to dissipate the tension and to give you a feeling of control. We view things differently when they’re set on paper. Tasks we regarded as formal and tedious appear easier to manage when you write down the exact details. Oh, I just need to do Step 1, Step 2, Step 3 . . . If this works for you, then repeat this process whenever you feel like procrastinating. In this part of our series, Permanently Ending Procrastination, we have focused on the forms of procrastination and the reasons people allow this setback in lives. We also shared three tips to re-orient your mind to moving forward. Continue now to Part 2 to learn six practical steps to stop this self-defeating habit. Apply these and, in no time, you will be permanently ending procrastination!