“Procrastination is the enemy of success.”
If you think you might be a procrastinator, don’t procrastinate now, because you really need to read this!
Of course, everyone puts things off sometimes, but procrastinators chronically avoid tasks and may deliberately look for distractions. There are many different types of procrastinators, but what almost all of them have in common is the fact that they suffer as a result of their tendency to delay and avoid. The more you understand procrastination, the better. So let’s talk more about procrastination and how to overcome it.
Approximately 25% of adults consider procrastination to be a defining personality trait for them. Procrastination tends to reflect a person’s struggles with self-control. With habitual procrastinators, thoughts or feelings of “I don’t feel like it” start to take precedence over their goals or responsibilities. This can then send them on a downward spiral of negative emotions that further detour their future efforts.
At some level, procrastination involves a degree of self-deception. Procrastinators are aware of their actions and the consequences, however, changing their habits and overcoming negative thinking requires even greater effort than completing the tasks in front of them. Procrastination promotes negative feelings for the procrastinator and for the people that are impacted by their procrastination. Procrastination can also jeopardize both personal and professional relationships. It causes disappointment and distrust and makes people wonder if they can truly rely on you.
In general, habitual procrastinators can experience reduced well-being, both mentally and physically. This is because they know what they should be doing and they know they are not doing it. You are not fooling yourself. You might be able to talk yourself into doing other things, but the fact that you have left tasks undone stays in the back of your mind, causing discomfort.
Some procrastinators say that they perform better under pressure, but while they may be able to convince themselves of that, research shows that that’s not generally the case. For example, students who routinely procrastinate tend to get lower grades, workers who procrastinate produce lower-quality work, and business owners who procrastinate get less done and grow their business at a slower rate.
Let’s Talk About How to Overcome Procrastination
Step 1 – Recognize What You Are Doing
If you are briefly delaying an important task for a genuinely good reason, then that is not procrastination. However, if you start to put things off indefinitely or switch focus intentionally because you want to avoid doing something, then you probably are.
You also may be procrastinating if:
- You fill your day with low priority tasks
- You leave an item in your to-do list even though you know it is important
- You read emails or listen to messages several times over without making a decision on what to do with them or without responding to them
- You start a high-priority task and then go off to make coffee or vacuum the living room, or organize your sock drawer, or fix that thing that can totally wait
- You fill your time with unimportant tasks that other people ask you to do instead of getting on with the important tasks that are on your to-do list
- You are waiting to be in the right mood or wait for the right time to tackle certain tasks
If you are doing these things, then stop kidding yourself, YOU ARE PROCRASTINATING!
Step 2 – Understand Why You Are Doing This
Are you avoiding a particular task because you find it boring or unpleasant? If so, take steps to get the task done quickly so you can get back to the things you find more enjoyable.
Are you disorganized? Poor organization can lead to procrastination. Organized people successfully overcome the desire to procrastinate because they prioritize their to-do lists and they stick to their daily schedule. Planning your work and working your plan is vital to your success!
Another major cause of procrastination is a lack of belief in your own decision-making and/or being a perfectionist. If you can’t decide what to do maybe you are putting off taking action because you think you are going to do it wrong. Don’t be afraid to ask for help and perspective from your mentor. There are NO stupid questions. Also don’t be a perfectionist, because it is an absolute waste of time.
“In a moment of decision, the best thing you can do is the right thing to do, the next best thing is the wrong thing, and the worst thing you can do is nothing.“
Procrastination can be a deeply ingrained pattern of behavior. Making the decision to STOP procrastinating is the first step, and YES YOU CAN make that decision. Try some of the tips and solutions below to give yourself the best possible chance of succeeding.
Step 3 – Commit To A Solution
1. Admit that you have been procrastinating, forgive yourself and work hard to change. Studies show that self-forgiveness can help you feel more positive about yourself and reduce the likelihood of procrastination in the future.
2. Commit to the task. Focus on DOING, not on avoiding. Write down the tasks that you need to complete and specify a time for doing them. This will help you proactively tackle your to-do list.
3. Promise yourself a reward. If you complete a difficult task on time reward yourself with a budget-based treat such as a small gift, like a coffee from your favorite coffee shop, and make sure you notice how good it feels to finish those things.
4. Have an accountability partner. Peer pressure works. You will be more inclined to do something if your partner, friend, or peer will ask you if you did it.
5. Tackle your hardest tasks first. Do you work better in the morning or the afternoon? Identify when you are the most productive and do the tasks that you find most difficult at these times.
6. Rephrase your internal dialogue. The phrases “need to” and “have to” imply that you have no choice in what you are doing. This can make you feel disempowered and might even result in self-sabotage. Saying “I choose to do this” or “I get to do this” reminds you that it’s your life and you are your own boss. This will make you feel more in control to get things done!
7. Destroy your distractions. Turn off your computer and/or social media. Avoid sitting anywhere near your television or gaming console so that you don’t get easily tempted when you are trying to do your work.
8. Bite the bullet. This means, “Just do it already!” Do it NOW, Do it NOW, Do it NOW! If you conquer the hardest and least desirable tasks first thing you will feel a sense of accomplishment and you will not carry that heaviness, inner-criticism, and negative mind chatter that procrastination gives you all day.
Remember how satisfied and accomplished you felt during your more productive moments when you temporarily figured out how to stop procrastinating? Isn’t it a great feeling when you honor your commitments and follow through on what you said you were going to do? Being a person of integrity feels great, and it will help you have peace of mind, as well as help improve your self-confidence. You’ll sleep better at night, and your results will improve!
So please remember, no matter how you feel you can always choose to do what’s right. Knowledge is not power, applied knowledge is. So get out there, apply what you have learned, and make it happen!