By Stella Vasileiadou,
Do not worry, we are all together in this. There is absolutely no reason to feel bad about it. It is normal not to do anything productive in a day. It is also normal not to send that e-mail to your colleague. But remember, sometimes, tiny tasks can become big monsters. If this becomes a way of life, then you should be worried and take action. Everyone procrastinates, but not everyone is a procrastinator.
Joseph Ferrari, a professor of psychology at DePaul University in Chicago and author of “Still Procrastinating?: The No Regrets Guide to Getting It Done”, has found that about 20% of adults are chronic procrastinators.
That is higher than depression, phobia, higher panic attacks, and alcoholism. And yet all of those are considered “legitimate”, he said. “We try to trivialize this tendency, but it is not a funny topic.”
What is procrastination?
Procrastination is “the act of unnecessarily postponing decisions or actions”. For example, if you need to do a task at work, but end up wasting time on the Internet, even though you know you should be working, that means that you are procrastinating.
But why do we procrastinate since we know it is not a good thing?
Most people tend to think that it is all about laziness. Actually, it has almost nothing to do with that:
Stress, anxiety, and fear of failure, unfortunately, do promote procrastination. For instance, when we have to get something done, we rely primarily on our self-discipline in order to carry through with it on time, which is highly linked to our motivation. Such factors are demotivating and outweigh our self-control.
Rewards that are not near the future could be a possible cause as well or too abstract goals. You have to be specific regarding your goal and set deadlines based on your capabilities. By being organized and self-aware, little by little, you will reach your end goal with success. There is no need to rush.
Indecisive people procrastinate, too. That is because they feel unable to make decisions in a timely manner. This can be an issue in various ways, such as when a person cannot decide which course of action to engage in, or when a person needs to make a certain decision before they can move ahead with their general plan of action.
For example, a person might delay starting a diet, because they cannot decide which diet plan to follow. Similarly, a person might delay getting started on their research paper, due to the fact that they cannot decide which topic to write about. Also, such people do not feel confident about themselves (known as self-sabotage), and they tend to overthink and eventually not do anything.
Perfectionism is to blame for procrastination, for sure. People tend to be really afraid of making a mistake that they either end up not taking any action at all, or just because they think that there is always room for something better and waiting for the time their work becomes ‘’perfect’’ end up reworking their project indefinitely instead of releasing it when it is ready.
Useful tips to deal with procrastination:
First and foremost, you have to realize that perfection does not exist. Simply put in your best effort in what you do and realize that is all you can do. This will help you stop asking, “Why do I procrastinate?”
Secondly, it is about time you were organized… Once you have your idea or task, write down a timeline of what you want to achieve and by when. Remember — concrete goals. Ideally, do this on a daily basis to keep yourself on track and accountable. Creative minds tend to jump from one idea to another, so cultivating focus is essential. Plus, you could break the big task (or goal) into smaller tasks and complete the little ones step by step. The odds are that this will help keep your motivation alive. P.S: By setting up a reward system for each task, would be beneficial, too.
Last but not least, one thing that could help you, is to keep away all your potential distractions. How many times have you been telling yourself that you would switch on the Wi-Fi in order to see a specific post of that friend of yours, but actually end up being online and absorbed all day?
Remember: Do not give up on yourself. It is already a big step that you are aware of the problem and reading this article. Believe in yourself and get started today.
- ‘’Why People Procrastinate?’’, SOLVING PROCRASTINATION, Available here.
- ‘’Why do we procrastinate, and how can we stop? Experts have answers’’, The Washington Post, Available here.
- ’Why we procrastinate on the tiniest of tasks’’, BBC, ‘Available here.
- ‘’Why Do I Procrastinate? 5 Root Causes And How to Tackle Them’’, Lifehack.org, Available here.