Procrastination is putting something off until later, either due to carelessness or habitual laziness. It’s putting off till tomorrow what you just as easily could have finished up today. People that procrastinates postpones or needlessly delays accomplishing something –just because.
I believe is guilty of it, whether you are a student, an entrepreneur, or whatever you are.
Why do we let things slide until we’re in a time crunch and the deadline is looming and we’re not even CLOSE to being finished? Why do we procrastinate?
Because you don’t think it's Important Enough. You don’t place a high enough priority on the task at hand, it’s not vital and so it’s not worthy of you to do it.
You know the task needs to be done and you may already have decided that you’re the one who must do it. However, there is always something else more important on your to-do list that keeps bumping that particular job back to the bottom. Let’s say you know that the dishwasher needs to be unloaded. You’ll get to it later after you go grocery shopping. Grocery shopping is more important because if you don’t have food you’ll starve to death. Besides, no one can see that the dishwasher is full of clean dishes. After grocery shopping, you need to eat, because you’re hungry. Besides, you can just take a plate out of the dishwasher and use that. That’s sort of unloading it, isn’t it? Unloading the dishwasher isn’t a priority and that’s why you procrastinate doing it.
You Haven’t Committed To the Job. You may think the job should belong to someone else, it’s not really your job to do and the job is a waste of time. If this is how you’re looking at this particular task, then you need to ask yourself what will happen to you if you don’t complete the job.
You Could Just Be Lazy. Yes, that’s what I said. I know it’s not an easy thing to hear about yourself, but sometimes facing the truth about ourselves can help us overcome bad habits and succeed where we otherwise may have failed. You need to find a way to motivate yourself out of your habit of being lazy in order to stop procrastinating.
So How Can You Change Your Behavior?
Take an Inventory. Do you hear a little nagging voice in your head telling you that you need to do something? Can you see a visual in your head about the task you’re avoiding and are you feeling the physical and emotional consequences of what will happen if you don’t complete this task? Look at the clues that tell you just when and how you’re procrastinating and you’ll be able to see that you are indeed putting something off. Sometimes it’s difficult to tell when you’re procrastinating because you’re attempting to avoid thinking about it but if you piece together the clues you’ll be able to pinpoint your behavior in order to get a handle on it.
Make Yourself a Productive Environment. For example, if you work from home, create a home office where there’s no TV to distract you from your work. Sure, that basketball game is playing but you don’t have time to watch it because you have a deadline with a client. If the TV is there, you’ll be tempted to turn it on and then full-blown procrastination occurs. If you are addicted to the Internet but need to use your laptop or computer to do your work, then try to go somewhere where you won’t be able to receive a signal and get online. Removing the temptation to do something other than what you NEED to do will help you put a stop to procrastination.
Throw Out Those Procrastination Myths. “I work best under pressure” That’s the myth that nearly kept me from graduating from college. Once you believe that you can only work under pressure, you’re giving yourself permission to procrastinate. This can snowball and create serious problems for you if you have several deadlines looming.
“I can’t do this unless I have five uninterrupted hours” This is simply another stalling technique that master of procrastination use for telling themselves it’s ok to not start the project because they won’t have time to finish it. Hello? If you don’t start the task you’ll never finish it. It’s ok to start something and then stop so you can finish it later. Sometimes the simple act of beginning a task will break the cycle of procrastination and allow you to finish your job.
I can’t do this unless it’s perfect. The problem is that we are too hard on ourselves, demanding perfection where perfection is impossible. If you think you can’t start your term paper until you have the perfect opening sentence, then you have once again given yourself permission to put it off.
Break Down the Job. You have a job to do and it looks enormous. You could never, ever complete a job that big, so why even start? If that’s your mindset, then you probably won’t finish the job. In order to combat this kind of thinking, break the job or task down into small, manageable chunks. Your working space is a disaster, it’s too much for you to handle. Start on one end and clean off one counter. Voila! You’ve started. Take baby steps and soon you’ll see that the entire task has been completed.
Change Your Attitude. Often times we don’t begin something we have to do because we tell ourselves how difficult it’s going to be, or how disgusting the job is and how much we’re going to hate doing it. By giving ourselves reverse-pep talks we give ourselves permission to avoid beginning the task at hand. When you hear yourself doing this, change your attitude. Be like the little engine that could and tell yourself that you CAN do this, it’s not that difficult or disgusting. If you tell yourself that you don’t know how to do a particular task, change that around to tell yourself that you can learn as you go. It’s all a matter of mind over matter.
Whether you think you can or you can't, you are right. As Henry Ford taught us.
Make a List. Write down a list of what you need to accomplish. Put it in order of importance, highest to lowest. Next, start with number one and work your way down the list, checking off items as you go. Not only will this help you be organized, but putting those little check marks next to items you’ve finished will give you a mental boost and help you feel become productive on that day. And who doesn’t like to feel productive?
Basic human nature will always play a role in procrastination. Pleasurable activities are infinitely more enticing than painful or dull ones. We seek out what makes us feel good and attempt to avoid the things that annoy or bother us.
Consciously determining why you procrastinate will go a long way in helping you change your behavior. Don’t expect to transform your habits overnight, but do take small steps in the right direction and you’ll eventually get there. If you reward yourself for your little successes in this area, you just might make non-procrastination more pleasurable than full-blown-avoidance-procrastination.