Do you ever find yourself sitting at your desk, looking around the room, and feeling like you have nothing to do? If so, this post is for you. We all procrastinate sometimes, but there are several reasons why we do it. This blog post will discuss these reasons and show ways to overcome them to get more done.
What is procrastination?
Procrastination is the habit of putting off things despite the urgency and the negative consequences of not doing something immediately. For example, instead of meeting deadlines and getting things done, people do less complicated and more enjoyable things, such as engaging with their smartphone, browsing social media, surfing the net, or just dozing off when they procrastinate.
Procrastination is a different beast compared to laziness. When people are lazy, they don't feel productive and motivated, so that's why they don't do things. With procrastination, people deliberately don't do something even if they know the terrible aftermath of them not doing it. It's like a form of self-sabotage. Procrastination is like depression in the sense that you can't just cheer up or give rewards to procrastinators, and everything will be fine.
Procrastination doesn't only happen in the workplace. The act of procrastinating can also occur in school, at home, or even in relationships and eventually prevents us from reaching our fullest potential and can destroy our goals and objectives in life. What's dangerous is that a procrastinator is fully aware of the adverse outcomes and continues to make the destructive habit of procrastinating. There could be deeper psychological reasons why a person procrastinates. Knowing and understanding these reasons can help formulate strategies to overcome procrastination to lead better lives.
The task is boring
One good reason we could be procrastinating is that the task we have to do is dull, boring, mundane, or unpleasant. The job could be something that we're so used to doing every day that it becomes a chore, so we lack the drive to start working on them. Alternatively, the task could be something we don't want to do but have to do anyway because it is necessary, like a job you don't like but have to do because of the money. It can get problematic because the longer we delay doing things, the more they will pile up and become a bigger headache later.
A good way of solving this is to try looking at your tasks from a different perspective. If your work is boring and repetitive, try to make it look like a game. Let's say your job is to copyedit 100 pages a day. Make yourself look like a character from a video game and turn the number of pages into experience points. On a sheet of paper or make a note on your smartphone, list something like 100 pages = level 1, 300 pages = level 2, 600 pages = level 3, and so forth. Then make a reward for each level, preferably something that you enjoy, like eating at your favorite restaurant after level 1, buying chocolate you like after level 2, going to the mall at level 3, etc. The idea is to reward yourself now and then, so there is always something to look forward to every time you accomplish something. With this, you could also try exploring new and creative ways when doing your repetitive work and not just stick with the same old standard procedure.
If the task is unpleasant, try making the effort of doing it first thing in the day. This way, you could get rid of it immediately and proceed to more pleasant tasks moving forward. If the job is big simultaneously, break it down into smaller tasks to avoid getting overwhelmed. You can get things done more often this way, and minor successes will more easily come.
Some people procrastinate because they want to achieve perfection in what they do. Being a perfectionist might sound good, but it can prove detrimental to an individual. It leads someone to aim for only the highest standards and being the best at everything. In turn, this can lead to unrealistic expectations. Thus, the fear of failure sets in your mind, which creates a procrastination problem for perfectionists because they would only do things if they can meet guaranteed success and expectations. As a result, things that are not worth well enough in the person's mind get on hold, and the individual ends up waiting for the right moment to come, leading to wasted time.
In a perfectionist's mind, it's either a 0% or a 100%. A good way of dealing with this is to turn it into 100% or every other percentage below 100%. This mindset will make you settle for something less than desired, but it is better than not doing anything. The fear of failure gets eliminated because you are more inclined to start doing something instead of waiting for that ideal outcome. Keep in mind that mistakes happen, and perfection is probably something that only exists in the realm of gods.
Low self-esteem and confidence issues are reasons why a person is procrastinating. As a person who suffers from these, you tend to think of negative thoughts, believing too low in yourself. As a result, you become afraid of committing mistakes and think you are not good enough. You might be even thinking of problems that are not necessarily there. These things get in the way of productivity and make one lose motivation in doing something.
Building up confidence is not something that you can solve in an instant. It takes time and identifying that the problem exists is the first step in solving it. Seek a therapist to find out what is causing you to have low self-confidence. If a past trauma is the one causing problems, we have to learn to let go and move forward. It is good to surround yourself with positive people during building up your confidence, especially those who support you and are willing to help. Getting the help of a life coach is also a good option as dealing with self-confidence is one of their specialties. They can assist in improving your feelings and making you focus on your goals. Also, try not to overthink other people's opinions of you. Focus on what you can do yourself and improve from there.
The timing is off
How many times has it occurred to you that you put off tasks until the last minute, only to end up rushing and getting a mediocre quality of work done? People without good time-management skills are prone to this. They waste time by not finishing tasks when they already can, thinking that everything will be fine in the future. People like this end up procrastinating. The problem with this approach is that you never know if something else will come up while waiting until the near deadline. As a result, tasks can pile up, and you might end up not hitting your target.
Instead of focusing too much on the future and getting too far ahead of ourselves, we should focus more on the present time, what we can do and achieve in the short term. If your goal is to write a book, focus on finishing a few pages a day rather than having the finished book in your mind all the time. The key is to trick your mind into thinking that the larger goal is like a short-term goal. Gaining multiple little successes from achieving small goals every day will eventually pile up and produce the significant result you were aiming for in the first place.
Lack of system and structure
People procrastinate because it might not be apparent to them what to do next. The job is in front of them, but they do not have a sound system for doing things, and there is no structured way to accomplish something. These things lead to procrastination.
To stop procrastinating, one should have a clear vision of what things need accomplishment. If you know your ultimate goal, you will know where to direct your energy and resources. Break down big tasks into smaller objectives and goals that need fulfillment at specific times. Sort out the deadlines into decreasing duration, such as from a year into months, days, and hours. Create a system where you should have accomplished a particular task already and formulate the exact details of how you are going to a specific work and the order of doing things at this specific time of the day. This process is just an example of how you can accomplish projects or tasks more efficiently, and this can feel overwhelming, especially if you are not detail-oriented. Still, you don't have to do this alone. Try asking help from a mentor or a life coach to guide you. Once the systems and structure are in place, you will know what to do, when to do it, and how to do things, so there will be no room for procrastination.
Work on your goals and stop procrastinating.
Procrastination is a blockade to our goals in life. It prevents us from trying to do things and bringing the best of us. Identifying the reasons behind our procrastination is the key to overcoming it. Once you identify the reasons, it's time to find solutions to break free from procrastinating. It doesn't hurt to also call for help from others, so we have somebody to help us get serious with life and achieve the most things we value.