Do you find yourselves postponing tasks, sometimes to the literal tomorrow and sometimes to the infinite tomorrow? If yes, then maybe you are a procrastinator and this is a must-read for you to understand procrastination, the reason you procrastinate and finally to help you find effective and practical solutions to stop procrastinating.
What is procrastination?
- Procrastination is to delay doing something, it’s an act to postpone tasks. We often delay some work or task as an act to prioritize the most important work first or we may be going through a temporary phase where we do not feel the best of ourselves and need a break from the work and hence postpone the work, this would not be procrastination since you have valid reason for not taking the work immediately and hence postponing it to the next available time.
- Procrastination is delaying the work in spite of it being a priority and you have the time and resources to do the same. Also, it is at times possible that you may not be a procrastinator in general but there would be certain tasks that make you one of them, like filing taxes or daily exercising.
- So with that, we are clear that we at some other time in our life find ourselves as a procrastinator.
Why do we procrastinate?
There are certain reasons that may lead us towards procrastination. Understanding these reasons can help you identify the trigger that drives you to procrastination and can help you beat it.
1. Time inconsistency
Time inconsistency is a behavioral psychology concept where the person’s decision changes with time. The inconsistent preferences that a person makes are dependent on the state of mind of the person when the decision was made rather than rational thinking, this is backed up by many studies.
The simplest example can be when you voluntarily take up additional work at your office or college but when you reach the end of the day because of tiredness or hunger you procrastinate the work. In this case based on the state of mind at the end of the day, the person procrastinates although there was a willingness to do the same.
2. Focusing on the present and not future
Most people who procrastinate focus more on the present and less on the future. The satisfaction of short-term benefits makes them overlook the long-term benefit doing work will give them in the future.
The simplest example is knowing the fact that to lose extra weight you need to follow a healthy diet and if one does not follow the diet it may not be possible to lose weight, still the person chooses to eat junk food for the present satisfaction of taste rather than the future benefit of health.
3. Unclear Goal
Setting a defined goal gives clarity to your mind, it makes it easier for your brain to understand the importance of the work at hand, prioritize and make you see the opportunities that may open to you. The vision to achieve your goal gives you the motivation to work.
For example, just dreaming to go on a vacation will not make it easier for you to get the vacation, but having a clear goal like “I will go hiking this summer” will make you motivated to ensure you do all the work required for this to happen by summer, if required you do some extra work to get additional money to make the vacation happen
Having an unclear goal or no goals, make it difficult for one to realize the importance of doing the work and hence procrastinate
Perfectionism is believed to be good but may lead to procrastination in different ways. Perfectionism makes one feel the need to do a work flawlessly, this will make them spend a lot more time doing the work. At the same time, they will never feel satisfied with the outcome and will continue to rework it or keep improvising it and eventually procrastinate.
Perfectionism can make one feel fear of making mistakes, also doing work without error puts a lot of stress, making one feel that not doing the work is far easier. Also, some people may want to do just the perfect work and not want their name to be associated with work with errors or imperfections making them decide not to do it.
For example, one may keep reworking a project report to make it perfect and never meet the timeline or miss other work and timelines by investing all the time to make just one project report perfect.
Perfectionism may not always have a negative effect on procrastination.
5. Optimistic about future
Sometimes people are optimistic about the future. They don’t realize that not doing the work now may have some consequences or they feel that they will be able to do the work later and have sufficient time for it. The mindset that things will work out at the end, leads to this kind of procrastination.
Most commonly people think they have sufficient time to complete the work and procrastinate by thinking they can do it later. The most common example of this is students postponing to study, thinking there is enough time for exams, only to realize when the time comes that they have a lot to do.
Effects of procrastination
There are two types of effects of procrastination a negative effect and a positive effect.
The negative effect of procrastination is as follows
- Miss opportunity
- Feel stress and anxiety
- Don’t meet your goal
- Lower self-esteem
- Damage your reputation
Managed carefully, procrastination at times can give have some good effects
- Teach one to manage the deadline
- Don’t let you hold in the perfectionism cycle, as one needs to complete the work at the end hour
- Make one work fast
How to beat Procrastination?
It is possible to overcome the phase of procrastination but the process may require a different approach to each individual. However, the steps remain the same. Follow the things mentioned below as per your requirement to beat procrastination.
1. Accept that you are procrastinating:
The most crucial step to addressing any problem is accepting the problem, often you may find a reason or explanation for your procrastinating and it may be true but you need to realize and acknowledge if you are procrastinating.
2. Identify the reason for procrastination:
Knowing why you procrastinate helps you find the most effective solution to the underlying problem. Above mentioned reasons why you procrastinate help you find your trigger to procrastination and put a stop to it.
3. Build your system
Understand the trigger of procrastination and its association with your lifestyle. This will help you effectively beat procrastination at the same time give you a sustainable solution. This is subjective to the person and there is no right and wrong way for it.
Some ways to help you build your system are:
- If you find you procrastinate at work when you are tired, in that case, examine your schedule to have some rest or self-time. Make sure to prioritize your wellness during work. Here are 10 self-care at-work tips for your wellness at the workplace
- You may procrastinate when you have a lot of work at hand and don’t know where to start. In such cases, it is advisable to have a To-Do list and prioritize work based on importance and urgency. Find more details at 10 Ways To Make An Effective To-Do List and How to prioritize work tasks
- Another best wast to stop procrastinating is to build routines and include the routine work that you procrastinate on as part of your routines. The best most effective routines are the morning routine and evening routines. Here are some detailed post to help you build the right routines.
- To avoid getting carried away plan your task in advance and ensure to complete them as per schedule. To make the most of your day and have an effective day read How to have a productive day
- A very effective technique to beat procrastination is time blocking where in you assign a specific time to a task and make sure to complete it in the given time. It is one of my favorite ways to get things done. Get all details and tips to implement time blocking at Timeboxing at work: An effective way to get the most done
- If you think you procrastinate because you don’t feel enthusiastic to do work, do goal setting, and make a vision board, this will give you the required motivation.
4. Add your liking to disliking
This simply means to add an action or thing you like the most to something that you don’t like. The deep reason for procrastination at times is that you don’t like the work at hand but you have to do it because it is required to be done for the betterment. Assigning some things that you like with things you do not like will make it easier for you to do the work that you don’t like. For example, if you don’t like to exercise or go for a walk but love to listen to music, you can assign this like to dislike by allowing yourself to listen to music only while you exercise. This way you take up exercise not just for your health but also because you will be able to listen to music. This technique helps you beat procrastination with a positive approach
5. Reward yourself
It may not always be possible for you to add like to dislike, in such cases whenever you feel you are procrastinating or you identify the trigger. Promise yourself a reward if you don’t procrastinate. The reward can be as big or small as the urge or trigger of procrastination.
6. Get an accountability partner
An accountability partner is a person who will help to keep you accountable for your commitments. Having an accountability partner can make you feel not alone on the journey, you can share your difficulties and win with them. Also, accountability partners can check on you to ensure you have completed the work.
You can find a friend who is on the same boat of procrastination and you can be an accountability partner for each other.
7. Commitment device
This is important for people for whom distraction is the reason for procrastination,
A commitment device is making a decision about a small action at your present that is impacting your future. If you find yourself procrastinating as you are spending more time watching movies and series. Your commitment device can be unsubscribed from such services. If you find procrastinating as you keep checking your phone, your commitment device will be to switch off your phone till you complete the work.
How to Break the Habit of Procrastination?
The above steps will help you beat procrastination but the thing about procrastination is that it is not a one-time thing it keeps coming to you again as it becomes a habit. So a simple way to stick to your of beating procrastination is “2 Min Rule”
2 Min Rule
This rule is pretty simple and effective, any time you feel procrastinating, just tell yourself to do it for 2 min. This does not give you a chance to come up with a reason to give an excuse as it is just 2 min you need. Spending 2 min daily will eventually build a habit to do it always and most times it happens when we start doing it for 2 min you feel like we spend more time and eventually complete it.
- Accept that you are procrastinating.
- Identify the reason for procrastination- The triggered
- Assign action to beat these triggers
- Add your like to dislike
- Reward yourself
- If needed find an accountability partner
- Definitely give it a try to “2 min rule”.
Frequently Asked Questions
- We all have been in a place of procrastination at some point. The best way to beat procrastination is to understand your reason to procrastinate and follow the techniques mentioned in this article
- If you find it useful please subscribe, we do not spam, just share some useful information once in a while.
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