Do you often struggle to get things done? Do you avoid or find excuses to complete certain tasks? You may be procrastinating. Meaningful Minds Psychologist Bernadett discusses how you can overcome this.
What leads you to procrastinate? Starting a new project, paying bills, chores, running errands, filing tax returns, things that seem difficult, important things? Understanding why you procrastinate may help you identify and eliminate the behaviours that lead to procrastination.
Here are some reasons why people tend to procrastinate:
Value given to the task - Often deciding to do something may be driven by the value you give to accomplishing the task at hand. With procrastination, the value of doing something else in the moment will outweigh the value of completing the important task now. This is especially true if you have a lot of time before your deadline.
The task may appear to be hard - You may also choose to first work on what you believe to be an easier task rather than a harder task. Harder tasks require more time and effort, which can be experienced as being unpleasant and are therefore set aside.
Fears - Procrastination may often also stem from overwhelming fears that may challenge your comfort zone. Such fears can be of failure, stress, confusion, challenge, and change. You will therefore find any necessary excuse to put that important task on hold and will find yourself completing tasks that protect your from your fears. In doing this, you are actually creating greater challenges and stress for yourself.
Feeling overwhelmed - Looking at the task as a whole, may overwhelm you. This may lead to loss in motivation and focus. It may seem like a lot of work or time is necessary to complete it.
Perfectionism – Perfectionists are great procrastinators. You want things to be so perfect and pay attention to every detail, that this stops you from getting things done. Your work is good enough, believe in it and you will be one step closer to completing your task.
Procrastination leads to feeling tense and stressed. You know that you should be attending to the task but you don’t. Feelings of tension and stress can lead to unnecessary worry and anxiety, which may in turn affect your general health and may weaken your immune system.
How can procrastination be reduced? Here are a few simple steps to follow:
1. Focus – What is your goal? What will you achieve from achieving it?
2. Prioritise - What is most important for you to achieve your goal? Starting the task now and coming closer to your goal or will it be doing something else and distancing yourself from it?
3. Find a work space – Avoid working in comfortable relaxing spaces, these will shift your mind-set from your work and into comfort zones. Leave these spaces to come to later, when you want to take a break and relax.
4. Divide your task – Break it down into smaller tasks which are easier to achieve. Focusing first on smaller tasks, as opposed to the whole task, may help you to get motivated and help you structure your time and work. Write these down and tick them off as your complete them, ticking off each task brings a great sense of fulfilment.
“Success is not obtained overnight. It comes in instalments; you get a little bit today, a little bit tomorrow until the whole package is given out. The day you procrastinate, you lose that day's success.” ― Israelmore Ayivor
5. Be realistic and plan your time – Unexpected work, events, emergencies and commitments may come up. Acknowledge the possibility of these and set time out each day to work on your task.
6. Take breaks – As you complete each smaller task, allow yourself to take a break. Make yourself some coffee, go outside and breath in some fresh air, do something you enjoy, something that you find will energise you to get back to work.
7. Avoid perfectionism – It will only hinder your progress, just get your task done. Believe in yourself and your work.
8. Give yourself a reward – Once you have completed you task, take a relaxing bath, watch a movie, treat yourself to a delicious meal, spoil yourself – you deserve it!
“A year from now you may wish you had started today.” ― Karen Lamb
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