How to stop Procrastinating
What Is Procrastination?
Procrastination is the act of delaying or putting off tasks until the last minute, or past their deadline. Some researchers define procrastination as a “form of self-regulation failure characterized by the irrational delay of tasks despite potentially negative consequences.” According to Joseph Ferrari, a professor of psychology at DePaul University in Chicago and author of “Still Procrastinating: The No Regret Guide to Getting It Done,” around 20% of U.S. adults are chronic procrastinators.
Normally I am a well-organized individual and keep a business journal of things to do which I tick off once completed. But lately, even the to-do lists just lie there collecting dust.
I would much rather surf the net, watch movies and documentaries, and daydream rather than tackle more important issues. I find I can waste my whole day away simply doing nothing.
I lack motivation and enthusiasm and what once interested me no longer has the same appeal.
I think the only way I can get out of the rut I am in is to set goals because if I carry on like a robot I will not reap my rewards.
I have to stop worrying and think where there is an obstacle there is a solution to each problem and rather than avoid it tackle it head-on, with the attitude whatever will be will be. I am fortunate I can write so if there is a problem I can communicate in writing. My writing skills are my superpower.
If something is too hard to complete in one go, break it down into smaller modules.
As an example, I have a client that wants some articles written, and although I have semi-written them they go over the word count quota in which I am finding it difficult to make it shorter, hence am avoiding this person. I should by rights just say the articles will cost more than what he is prepared to pay or just accept his offer and not do any more work for him.
I am guilty of this, I may do everything than the task at hand. I may spend more time watching Netflix than doing my work. I sometimes lack motivation especially when I have things on my mind which are worrying me. People tend to procrastinate and waste countless hours on trivial pursuits (watching TV, updating their Facebook statuses, shopping online) rather than doing actual work or focusing on more important things.
Regardless if you have deadlines to meet and are putting off finishing a project for work, avoiding homework assignments, or ignoring household chores, procrastination can cause significant repercussions and have a major impact on your job, your grades, and your life.
Sometimes people have mental blocks and sometimes if something is troubling them they may avoid doing what urgently needs to be done.
Rather than run away from the problem tackle it head-on. There is no use trying to sweep it under the carpet because it will always be in the back of your mind.
You need to find the strength to deal with it.
Never leave things to the last minute, because if you do you will make things worse for yourself, you will make errors because you are hurrying and may not put all your thought into whatever you are trying to achieve. Students especially should give plenty of time to research, study, and understand.
Putting things off to the last minute may not give you ample time to finish the job.
You essentially will get yourself more worked up and stressed whereas if you had done it sooner you would not be in a fluster.
Don’t assume that projects won’t take as long to finish, this can lead to a false sense of security when you believe that you still have plenty of time to complete the tasks.
Staying focused and tackling undesirable jobs can help the job to be done quickly even though you may not always feel motivated. The reality is that if you wait until you’re in the right frame of mind to do certain tasks (especially ones you are not particularly looking forward to), you will probably find that the right time may never come and the task will never be completed.
A report published in 2007 on a meta-analysis in the Psychological Bulletin found that an outstanding 80% to 95% of college students procrastinated on a regular basis, especially when it came to completing assignments and coursework. According to researchers, there are some major cognitive distortions that lead to academic procrastination.
Students tend to:
- Be bad at time management and may overestimate or underestimate how much time they have left to perform tasks and
- Lack motivation
- Assume that they need to be in the right frame of mind to work
What Is Cognitive Bias?
Stress and depression can cause procrastination. It is the ability to avoid doing something that may urgently need doing and preoccupying one’s mind with something else that may be trivial. Feelings of hopelessness, helplessness, and a lack of energy can make it difficult to start (and finish) the simplest task. As an example, I have so many projects waiting to be written and I keep putting them off. I find I am a daydreamer and somehow am willing the projects to miraculously get written by themselves. I have decided to get this post published otherwise it would have lingered in my drafts. Depression can also lead to self-doubt. When you can’t figure out how to tackle a project or feel insecure about your abilities, you might find it easier to put it off.
Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD)
MY OCD is germ contamination, but I do have traits of perfectionism to make sure my articles are well-written and proofread before publication.
OCD is often linked with maladaptive perfectionism, which causes fears and anxieties about not messing things up or making new mistakes. It can also lead to doubts about whether you are doing something properly and worrying about what others may think of you or their expectations of you.
I am usually very organized and decisive although it is said that people with OCD also often have a propensity toward indecision, causing them to procrastinate rather than make an active decision. (This is true to a certain degree for me, because if I am anxious about a certain task I may avoid doing it or postpone it to the very last minute).
Research has found many adults with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) find it hard to concentrate and thus struggle with procrastination.
A person who is not focused and is distracted with intrusive thoughts can find it hard to get started on a task, especially if that task is difficult or not interesting to them.
Is Procrastination a Mental Illness?
Although procrastination is not defined as a mental illness, in some cases, it may be symptomatic of an underlying mental health condition such as depression, OCD, or ADHD.
Why Do You Procrastinate?
When it comes to procrastination we often come up with a number of excuses to justify why we avoid doing things. According to researchers, there are 15 key reasons why people say they procrastinate:
- Being unsure of what needs to be done
- Being unsure of how to do something
- Avoiding wanting to do something
- Not bothered if it gets done or not
- Not bothered when something gets done
- Not being in the mood
- Leaving things till the last minute
- Thinking that you work better under pressure
- Believing that you can finish it at the last minute
- Lacking the motivation to get started
- Not remembering to start something
- Using sickness or poor health as an excuse
- Believing that the best time to start is at the right moment
- Thinking you need time to plan the task
- Postponing one task in favor of working on another
Types of Procrastination
Some researchers classify two types of procrastinators: passive and active procrastinators.
- Passive procrastinators: Postpone tasks because they have trouble making decisions and acting on them
- Active procrastinators: Postpone tasks deliberately because working under pressure allows them motivated
- Perfectionist: Avoiding tasks out of the fear of not being able to complete the job perfectly
- Dreamer: Postpones or avoids tasks because they cannot complete the job thoroughly
- Defier: Someone that believes their time cannot be dictated and they are in full control
- Worrier: Postpones or Avoids tasks out of fear of change or leaving the comfort zone.
- Crisis-maker: Postpones or avoids tasks because they like working under pressure and cannot deal with the stress
- Overdoer: Someone that takes on too many jobs which may become overwhelming and may struggle to find time to start and complete one job never may several
Procrastinators vs. Non-Procrastinators
“Non-procrastinators do not have a care in the world they are very focused individuals that have good time management and can work under pressure and to deadlines. Non-procrastinators are assertive with strong personal identity do not care what others think about them. According to psychologist Piers Steel, people who don’t procrastinate tend to be high in the personality trait known as conscientiousness, one of the broad dispositions identified by the Big Five theory of personality. People who are high in conscientiousness also tend to be high in other areas including self-discipline, persistence, and personal responsibility.
When procrastination becomes chronic, it may begin to have a serious impact on a person’s daily life and this can become a serious issue. In such instances, it’s not just a matter of having poor time management skills, it’s a major part of their lifestyle.
Procrastinators may avoid paying their bills on time, may come into work late, or delay starting assignments until the night before the deadline, this could include delaying gift shopping until the day before a birthday, and even filing their income tax returns late.
Procrastination can have a serious impact on a person’s daily life routine, this, in turn, can cause serious health issues including mental health. Social, professional, and financial well-being can be affected including:
- Significant higher levels of stress and illness
- The increased burden placed on social relationships
- People not understanding which leads to resentment from friends, family, co-workers, and fellow students
- Financial Difficulty from the consequences of late bills and late payment charges.
- Re-wire your mind, control your thoughts and stay focused.
- Create a critical time path and map out each task in a journal or calendar, and set reminders.
- Create a to-do list: To help keep you on track, consider placing a due date next to each item.
- Take each step at a time, do not rush, and tick off each completed task. Take baby steps: Consider breaking down the items on your list into small, manageable steps.
- Have time to meditate for 5 mins in the morning and 5 minutes before you go to bed.
- Recognize intrusive thoughts and the warning signs, pay attention to any thoughts of procrastination and do your best to resist the urge. When you have a negative thought quickly put that thought into your imaginary bin and quickly replace it with a positive thought.
- Create a tranquil setting where you cannot be disturbed. Eliminate all distractions including social media if you do not use them for business use.
- Be self-disciplined, be assertive, and try to work slowly and take one task at a time.
- Reward yourself with a self-gift for every task completed, it could be a simple bar of chocolate to a more expensive present you have been meaning to buy yourself. Knowing that once you have completed your task and looking forward to receiving your well-deserved purchase makes the job even more worthwhile.
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