In simple words, you procrastinate when you put off things that you should be focusing on right now, usually in favor of doing something that is more enjoyable or that you’re more comfortable doing.
Why does anyone procrastinate? There are different reasons, but the most common ones are:
- A perception that a task is unpleasant or tedious
- Fear of the Unknown
- Fear of Change
- Fear of Failure
- Disorganized state of mind
While procrastination seems to be a benign human fault, it can adversely affect the quality of your life with devastating results. Not getting your medical treatment done on time can result in death, if initial symptoms of a deadly disease are overlooked. Not paying your credit card bill on time can result in huge penalties. Not purchasing life insurance can leave your young children destitute if anything should happen to you. Not getting your car’s oil changed on time can reduce the life of your car and result in major repair costs. The list goes on …
Right now, before going on, make a list of at least two things that you’ve been planning to do, but haven’t. DO IT NOW. Just grab a pen and paper and make a list of those two things that you’ve been putting off. Then read the rest of the article. You will be able to start applying these tips to accomplish them right now.
How to know you are procrastinating
Here are some useful indicators that will help you know when you’re procrastinating: Checking e-mails, WhatsApp messages, and Facebook page, several times in a day, at the cost of your primary work. Leaving an item on your To Do list for a long time, even though you know it’s important. Waiting for the “right mood” or the “right time” to tackle the important task at hand.
How to Overcome Procrastination
1 Embrace Imperfection
One of the reasons we procrastinate is waiting to start till we have made a perfect plan. If you’re trying to write the perfect report, you keep thinking how people may find faults with it, that you don’t even want to get started. Just start writing anything that comes to mind on the topic.You can always improve on it later.
- Make a promise to yourself
When it comes to important tasks like going to the gym or starting on a diet schedule, we’ll just set vague goals and feel perfectly comfortable pushing back our self-imposed deadlines. Fix a date and make a promise to yourself that, come what you will show up. Remember, “Well begun is half done”
- Start with the easy part
The first step is simply to start with whatever is easy, manageable and simple. Have a look at your project, whatever it is, and decide to do the easy bit first. The great thing is that after starting, you will build momentum and gain confidence to tackle the complex parts.
- Don’t be bogged down by excuses
When confronted with a not so interesting, complex task, all sorts of excuses start popping up on the screen of your mind. Here are a few of the common excuses; not feeling in the mood to do it, all inputs not available, few team members not present, waiting for other team members to do it, date of submission is far away, etc, etc. Don’t fall a prey to such excuses, and start in right earnest, straightaway!
- Don’t rely on memory
Sometimes we forget to start on schedule, because of other commitments. Write down the date and time of starting the project and finishing it, in a prominent place which you can always see.
- Keep track of how you spend your time.
Grab a notebook and a pen; for an entire week, write down everything that you do and how much time you spend on it. You may be shocked to discover that you waste enormous amounts of time aimlessly surfing the web, reading blogs that don’t really help improve your quality of life, “chatting” on Twitter, and so on. Ask yourself how your life would improve if you used that time productively instead.
- Set a timer.
When you’re going to start working on a task which you’ve been avoiding, set a timer for a specific amount of time–for example, forty minutes–, and tell yourself that you will not take your focus off the task until the timer rings. When the timer rings, take a short break; then, set the timer for another forty minutes and do it again.
- Set deadlines for each subtask.
Suppose that your boss assigns you a project that’s due in three months. Instead of focusing on the three-month deadline, break the project down into subtasks, and set a deadline for each subtask. That way, you can make sure that you work steadily on the project during the three month period, instead of leaving everything to the last minute.
- Tell others about your goals.
Tell all your friends, colleagues, acquaintances and family about your projects. Now whenever you see them, they are bound to ask you about your status on those projects. It’s a great way to keep yourself accountable to your plans.
- Associate with people who inspire you to take action.
Identify the people/friends/colleagues who trigger you – most likely the go-getters and hard workers – and associate with them more often. Soon you will inculcate their drive and spirit too. Watching inspiring videos will also push you forward.
- Turn off your phone
With every social network, the internet, YouTube and a connection to all your mates right there in your pocket, your phone is the ultimate procrastination tool. That’s why you should turn it off when you want to be productive. Even if it’s just for an hour at a time, you’ll see noticeable improvements in your concentration and output.
- Know the Consequences of Procrastination
Sometimes the fear of loss, the pain or the embarrassment of failing motivates us to achieve our goals. We all are motivated differently. But if you keep an account of what is at stake if you fail to achieve those daily goals, most probably you will not procrastinate. Personally, I don’t like to lose and therefore I keep pushing towards my goals because come what may, I want to win.
By overcoming procrastination you will decrease anxiety, stress, and depression and watch your self-esteem rise. You will also earn you a reputation for being dependable and successful.
I would like to conclude with my all-time favorite quote from Martin Luther King, Jr.:
“You don’t have to see the whole staircase, just take the first step.”