We just hate to do certain things. Some things are a headache to even think about, let alone actually do. So we conspire to ignore the irksome thing and pretend it will go away. We promise ourselves, our spouses, our children and our friends that we will get to it…only not now. We are busy now…
Admit it. Those crafty avoidance schemes make us feel guilty. We go into denial. We are prone to get defensive and there might be an argument, yet we continue to stonewall. Oh, but we cannot hide forever. Eventually, we’ve gotta man up and do the deed. ç
Why do we do this? Don’t we realize that allowing loose ends and evil-but-necessary tasks to pile up only makes it worse for us when we are finally forced to take them on?
Yes! But everyone procrastinates once in a while. It’s part of the human condition. In fact, under certain circumstances, what appears to be procrastination can serve us well. Sometimes a problem or task needs to be pondered, with more information about the cause, implications and possible resolutions sought. It may not be wise to quickly jump in with both feet. Due diligence is not a sign of procrastination.
Other times, it is best to wait for more favorable conditions before making a move and attempting resolution. Timing is always important. Or maybe this item really does deserve to be put off, because there are more important issues pending that deserve your immediate attention. Prioritization is not a sign of procrastination, it is good time management.
So what makes us procrastinate? Psychologists say that chronic procrastination results from a fear of failure or success. Either way, it’s self-sabotage. Fear prevents us from taking action and moving forward. The experts have a few more theories:
1. The Perfectionist. If you cannot perform in a flawless fashion, then you will do nothing at all.
2. Poor Decision Maker. You are trapped in analysis-paralysis quicksand and unable to settle on a course of action.
3. The Overwhelmed. You consider the task to be beyond your capabilities, or you just hate doing the thing.
4. The Disorganized. You cannot get your act together. You don’t know or have what is needed to complete the task and cannot focus on it.
You can tame the procrastination beast. The easiest way, if you’ve been persistently unable to make yourself tackle a certain job, is to take the hint and outsource it. Maybe you avoid doing this thing because doing it makes you miserable and you’re lousy at it anyway? If you’re holding the cash, call in a professional and stop the drama.
If you are not holding sufficient cash, then you need an attack strategy. You must bite the bullet and face down this demon, because continuing to avoid your responsibilities kills your momentum and adds stress to your life. Procrastination is bad for business and you cannot afford to wallow in it.
Break the beast down into manageable blocks and chip away a little at a time. Devote 30-60 minutes each day to the job until it is completed. Self-discipline builds self-confidence and will keep you motivated to stay on track. Reward yourself handsomely once you’ve crossed the finish line.
Keep the procrastination beast at bay by setting reasonable goals for yourself. Reaching for the stars is admirable, but be realistic (and not pessimistic or self-limiting) in recognizing what you can achieve.
Finally, always prioritize. Time sensitive and other important tasks go to the top of your list and are preferably done early in the day, to promote the likelihood of successful completion. Lower priority tasks are done later. If a project lands on your to-do list, then it should be done within a reasonable time frame, so don’t ignore it for six months.
Thanks for reading,