Procrastination is one of the great evils of our society. Procrastination can affect our career and life and can cause us all sort of problems.
What is procrastination?
The word procrastinate comes from the Latin roots ‘pro’ meaning ‘for’ and ‘crast’ meaning ‘tomorrow’. You’re literally postponing your brilliant responses, accomplishments, celebrations and successes until tomorrow…or the next day…. or the day after that.
Why do people procrastinate?
It is a way of avoiding some unpleasant internal feelings associated with the work at hand. For example, if a task causes you to feel anxious you will find a way to keep it at bay. You might not be fully aware of this, but this might be working at a subconscious level.
Type of tasks that can cause procrastination
1- Tasks where one lacks skills in.
For example, if maths has always been difficult for you to understand, it’s obvious that you will do whatever is in your power to avoid this five-page maths homework that makes you feel stupid. In languages it might be the list of vocabulary and phrases that you must memorise and that you keep forgetting even though you've been revising it for a while.
We tend to avoid tasks that make we feel stupid.
2- Tasks that you find tedious or uninteresting.
Tasks like tidying the house or your room will be postponed on behalf of more interesting ones like social media browsing.
3- Long-term tasks.
These are without a clear deadline, and they can be difficult to achieve as well. They bring the feeling of frustration and uncertainty.
4- Unpleasant tasks.
like taking Grandma do the shopping. You will try to find the way to wiggle yourself out of it.
5- Tasks that feel too much to handle.
If the task has multiple sub parts, it seems that it is a never-ending assignment, and completion seems almost impossible.
Procrastination besides eroding your self-esteem, creates a dangerous split in your mind.
When you procrastinate, you’re always thinking about two things: what you’re doing now, and what you think you should be doing.
The procrastinator toxic cycle
When a procrastinator puts off a task, he distracts himself with an activity to keep himself busy and to gain some sense of accomplishment. But he/she soon realises that this feel-good factor does not last long and at the same time feels guilty for not having done the important task in the first place. The internal struggle starts again, and the phase of panic appears. Panic is a familiar emotion to the procrastinator. It is often the only thing that can make him start the original task. However, because he/she has procrastinated, he/she will have less time and fewer resources to hand. He/she may turn in a project on time, but it will be rushed and of low standard. Then, he may blame himself even more for not having done as good a job as he was capable of.
The five types of procrastinators
To fix the problem at its root, you must identify the type of procrastination you personally experience. Let’s have a look at the triggers for different types.
Being perfect is the pleasure perfectionists want, but often this leads to them being too scared to show any imperfections. Because of this, they frequently fail to finish things, as they are looking for the perfect approach. Tasks end up never being completed. Instead of finishing something, perfectionists are always editing the task.
An Ostrich prefers to stay in the dreaming stage.
An ostrich prefers to stay in the dreaming stage. That way, they don’t have to work for real, and deal with any negativity or stress.
Dreaming gives them a false sense of achievement, because they envision big plans in their mind. These plans stay most of the time as dreams, and they never accomplish anything.
They prefer to avoid doing anything to prevent bad things from happening. They have developed a fear of making mistakes or doing anything wrong. They make few mistakes, but they accomplish nothing.
They are those who believe that deadlines can push them to do better. Instead of having a schedule to complete their work, they prefer to enjoy time doing their own things before the deadline comes around.
They lack the ability to prioritise their work. They do what they feel they should do, rather than thinking through what they really need to do.
Once you identify your procrastination type you will be able to find ways to eliminating your procrastination triggers.
Simple fixes for every day procrastinators
If you’ve been a procrastinator for quite a while, it will be difficult for you to assess when you’re procrastinating because it has become an intricate part of yourself. Besides you justify avoiding the important tasks by always being busy doing less important ones.
Don’t let procrastination take over your life. Here are a few simple advice to help you overcome procrastination.
1- Break your work into simple steps.
By doing so, you’re avoiding feeling overwhelmed. Break the task into little parts, then focus on one part at a time. If you still procrastinate, break the tasks furthermore. Soon, your task will be so simple that it will be achievable.
2- Create a detailed timeline with specific deadlines
Break down your project (as described in 1), then create an overall timeline with specific deadlines for each small task. This way, you know that you must finish each task by a certain date. Break your goals into monthly, weekly and daily tasks and all with deadlines.
3- Change your environment
Changing your work space can help you be more productive. Find a spot that makes you feel inspired.
4- Get rid of distractions
Switch your phone and other devices off and stay away from your emails until the work is done.
5- Hang out with people who inspire you to act
Identify the people(friends or colleagues) who are action takers and trigger you. Be in their company more often. Soon you will inherit their drive and spirit too.
6- Get a buddy
Having a companion makes the whole process much more fun, especially if she has her own set of goals. Both will hold each other accountable to goals and plans.
Broadcast your plans to whoever wants to listen to, it creates an extra layer of accountability.
7- Tell others about your goals
Tell your friends, colleagues, acquaintances and family about your projects. Whenever you see them, they are bound to ask you about them.
8- Revisit your goals
If you’ve been procrastinating for quite a while, it might mean that there’s a misalignment between what you want and what you’re currently doing. You might have outgrown your goals, but not change them. Revisiting them will give you the opportunity to re-evaluate your goals.
9- Keep it simple
Perfectionism is one of the biggest reasons for procrastination. There’s never a perfect time to start your planned tasks. Remember that the moment is now. As it is said out there “better done than perfect”.
10- Take action
Planning is good, but if you don’t act nothing will change. The only way to move forward is by acting.
Whatever you’re procrastinating on, if you want to get it done, do it.