“Not everything that is faced can be changed. But nothing can be changed until it is faced.” — James Baldwin
We all occasionally put off doing something. When it becomes a habit and a pattern in our everyday existence, it becomes a problem.
I don’t feel like …
I don’t want to …
I’ll do it tomorrow…
It’s not as important as…
These are all phrases that naturally come out of the procrastinators mouth when they are faced with a task that needs to be done. They often come out sounding whiney with a “poor me” tone to them.
On occasion, they are looking for confirmation from other people around them to support why they are so ‘hard done by’.
Procrastination happens to everyone, even those who are highly productive. The only difference is the productive persons ability to recognise procrastination for what it is – excuses. Then they learn how to beat procrastination using a calculated approach that includes why they procrastinate and then apply strategies to beat it.
Procrastination isn’t just poor time management or laziness. It often comes from negative emotions that keep you hostage from taking action.
People put things off because they’re not in the right mood. Then they distract themselves with other tasks. Then when you realise what you are doing, you feel guilty for wasting so much time.
Your mood worsens because you feel guilty. Your task deadline gets closer and you feel worse. But still unmotivated to tackle the task.
This continual loop of self-destructive behavior can only be broken when you discover what is causing you to procrastinate.
Most of us experience guilt when we procrastinate. We become our own worst enemy. We know what we should be doing and what’s in our best interest, but we don’t follow through.
The Greeks called it akrasia- the weakness of will; acting contrary to what we know is in our best interest.
Procrastinators are excellent at making excuses. I should know – do you know how long it took to finish this post!
The trick to beating procrastination is to recognise the habits and patterns that cause you to procrastinate and make changes that put a stop to the behaviour.
Answer the following questions. They will help to dig deeper into recognising your procrastination habits and patterns and finding ways to put a halt to them.
Don’t delay. Get started now.
Yes, now, go and get a pad of paper and a pen.
What are you doing when you procrastinate? What situations cause you to procrastinate? And why are you procrastinating?
What excuses are you using? How can you break the excuses and begin the tasks?
Is it perfectionism or some other fear that stalls you? How can you get over wanting it to be perfect to help you move on?
Do you lack direction, use avoidance or are paralyzed by making a decision? How can you make this easier? What steps can you take to get moving?
What steps can you take to get over what’s holding you back? Are there people or apps that can help you?
Is your attitude part of the problem? How can you turn negative thoughts into positive ones that help you take action? Are there affirmations you can say daily?
Does the problem stem from your role models you had growing up? What new role models can you emulate who are action takers?
What are some ways you can change your behavior? Can you write down all your tasks? Break them into smaller blocks of time?
What negative feelings do you have about tasks? How can you change or get rid of them?
How can you build your willpower against procrastination? How can you reduce your resistance to specific tasks?
Now doesn’t that feel better?