Overcoming Procrastination: Well… what are you waiting for?

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“Procrastination is the art of keeping up with yesterday.” ~Don Marquis
For some it’s casual while for others  a major source of stress,  anxiety and missed opportunity.  While procrastinators tend to be optimistic about their ability to complete their tasks on a deadline, they don’t always possess the capacity to fulfill them. And as a result many people’s work suffers tremendously.

If you’re not sure whether you’re procrastinating or not, use this list. To be clear, if you meet the criteria, you ARE a procrastinator.

  • Filling your day with low priority tasks from your To Do List – Sure, they’re easier to accomplish but you’re not getting the important stuff done and that will become a problem.
  • Continually revisiting emails without any real action – You may not know exactly what to say all the time but that’s ok, neither does anyone else. Go ahead and respond and get it off your plate, the quicker you do this the easier it will be to address other work.
  • Sitting down to start a high-priority task, and almost immediately going off to make a cup of coffee – This one hits home pretty hard as I’m currently looking at an empty mug and considering a refill.  Give yourself a block of time to work and then get coffee when you’re finished not before.
  • Leaving an item on your To Do list for a long time – This one is tough, often times we can blaze through 99% of our work really easily only to get faced with a very small task that we dread. In reality these need to be taken care of like everything else but we put them off.
  • Regularly saying “Yes” to unimportant tasks that others ask you to do – If you don’t have time for your job, you certainly don’t have time to do someone else’s. This is especially important in an office where people have specific sets of duties in order to accomplish larger task. Maybe they do need help, but if you’re not getting your work done as a result, there will be a problem.
  • Waiting for the “right mood” or the “right time” to tackle the important task at hand – The thing is, you’ll never feel perfect for work. Get started as soon as possible and you’ll forget all about how “tired” you are.

In order to overcome procrastination the procrastinator needs to be able to correctly identify the root  cause of the problem. Here are 9 causes of procrastination:

  1. Fuzzy Goals
  2. Sketchy Plans
  3. Feeling of Being Overwhelmed
  4. Unexpected Complications
  5. Interruptions
  6. Boredom
  7. Anxiety
  8. Impatience
  9. Exhaustion

 Steps for Overcoming Procrastination

So about overcoming this little monster.

  • Segment the task  – Separate your tasks and time in to blocks and complete them one at a time. It will make the whole thing feel a lot less overwhelming.
  • Do not fool yourself – by believing you can do more than is humanly possible. This is a big one.
  • Accept the fact –  that you need variety and relaxation in your day/week/month/year. Be sure to reward yourself for a job well done.
  • Monitor your progress –  on the small steps. Learn how all the pieces fit together to make your days the most constructive possible.
  • Be reasonable  – in your expectations of yourself. Perfectionistic or extremely strict expectations may cause you to rebel or may sabotage your progress.

You’ll feel a weight lifted from your shoulders knowing that you’ve already completed your tasks.

The ability to overcome procrastination in day-to-day life can be the difference between success and failure for many people so it’s important to recognize where you do this in your life and cut it out. It’s important to learn to concentrate on the task at hand in order to not get distracted and subsequently, procrastinate.

Benefits of Overcoming Procrastination

Less work pressure – It’s nice knowing that you don’t have anything waiting for your attention

Better job performance – You performance will improve because you’ll be taking care of problems as they arise instead of letting them build

Avoiding stress – You’ll feel a great deal of relief knowing that you’ve taken care of everything

More time for yourself – You’ll ultimately have more time to spend with your family and friends and self when you don’t tasks looming over head.

Benefits of procrastination….?

There are, however, benefits to procrastination which include; time to allow ideas to flourish on their own, relaxation – which is more valuable physiologically than hard work, and cutting out the busy work . These just don’t apply to everybody. Personally, while I do procrastinate, I spend a large portion of my time contemplating what I’m going to to because I don’t like to act unintentionally. This works for me sometimes while other times sets me back on my time schedules. It really depends on your current situation and task at had.

Recommended Reading

Procrastination: Why You Do It, What to Do About It Now by  Jane B. Burka PH.D. and Lenora M. Yuen PH.D.

Burka and Yuen explain the complex psychological mechanics behind what we call ‘procrastination’ and show us that procrastination is just an outward symptom of much more complex subconscious processes that goes on in our brains.

Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity by David Allen

Allen presents an awesome organizational system and shows how anyone can take better control of their lives with just a little extra effort up-front.

 

References:

The Benefits of Procrastinating

http://www.mindtools.com/pages/article/newHTE_96.htm

http://www.counselingcenter.illinois.edu/self-help-brochures/academic-difficulties/overcoming-procrastination/