Do you leave tasks to the last minute?
“I’ll feel like doing this tomorrow.”
“I work better under pressure.”
“Pressure makes me more creative.”
If these sound familiar, you are not alone. 20% of people identify themselves as chronic procrastinators.
Let’s be real.
No, you will not feel like it the next day.
You will not work better under pressure.
You are squandering your resources.
When we delay what we need to get done or tell ourselves it isn’t important, we reject our best selves.
Procrastination stifles our talents. It is destructive to teamwork and relationships.
Let's tackle this problem.
What Is Procrastination?
“Procrastination is the avoidance of doing a task that needs to be accomplished by a certain deadline. It could be further stated as a habitual or intentional delay of starting or finishing a task despite knowing it might have negative consequence ”.
Procrastination: “The dread of doing a task uses up more time and energy than doing the task itself.” Rita Emmett
Procrastination is not about managing time.
Procrastination is about managing ourselves: our thoughts, feelings and actions.
Types Of Procrastinators
All procrastinators seek distractions, but the reasons are different. Digital interruptions like e-mail or social media make it easier than ever to procrastinate.
The three types of procrastinators are:
arousal types, or thrill-seekers, who wait to the last minute for an exciting rush;
avoiders, who may be avoiding fear of failure or fear of success - both care what others think of them; they would rather others believe they lack effort, not ability; and
decisional procrastinators, who cannot make a decision - not making a decision liberates procrastinators of responsibility for the outcome of events.
The effects on physical health are well documented. There are also big costs to other people, who might become burdened and resentful. It’s simply not worth it.
Things may come to those who wait, but only the things left by those who hustle.
Here are a couple of suggestions to begin:
Manipulate your environment (remove distractions like phone, Internet). Set up your workspace so your brain doesn’t have a chance to move somewhere else.
Bring the scale down. Ignore the big picture in the short term. Break the task into chunks. That makes it much easier to get momentum going.
Just start. 80% of us will keep going.
This optional video (5mins) has similar ideas and an additional twist:
Procrastination is about lying to yourself.
Organize your large project into small segments.
Start a project off with the tasks you like the best.
Clear distractions to keep you on track.
Reward yourself for getting through parts of the project rather than waiting for when the whole thing is over.
Which of these is NOT a strategy for overcoming procrastination?
Other Procrastination Hacks
Here are a couple of time management approaches to consider.
The Pomodoro Technique
This method developed by Francesco Cirillo in the late 1980s uses a timer to break down work into intervals, 25 minutes in length, separated by short breaks .
Published in 1942, it suggests that work expands to fill the time available for completion. Some people create artificial deadlines to decrease delay in motivation, thus decreasing the likelihood of procrastination.
Other people use this principle to take charge and force productivity. The image below illustrates the initial high effort required in any change, where powerful feedback and growth can happen.
The fear of failure or rejection is a powerful force that can take the form of procrastination or perfectionism. Examine your fears to avoid self-destructive habits.
Fear of rejection and procrastination are acquired. You have the power to tell your mind better things.
Therapist Marisa Peer suggests: Lie to your mind. Cheat fear and procrastination. Steal back the confidence you were born with.
Peer also reminds us that human beings are wired to work for a reward. To earn your reward, do the hard thing first. You will enjoy it more when you have earned it.
“Remember, habits are powerful because they create neurological cravings. It helps to add a new reward if you want to overcome your previous cravings. Only once your brain starts expecting the reward will the important rewiring take place that will allow you to create new habits.” Barbara Oakley
“Done is better than perfect.” Sheryl Sandberg
Procrastinators can change their behavior with effort. Deep internal transformations at the heart of our habits need special attention.
Some techniques beat procrastination with what you like most; others start with what you like least. Everyone is different. Try each technique to find what works for you.
Do the hard things, or do the easy things, but do them now.