” Nah, I’ll do it tomorrow”. This is exactly how I felt when I started to write this article. Procrastination is one of the most common problems that we have. We leave everything till the 11th hour. We don’t want to work on things unless we absolutely have to. And then sometimes it is too late. We knew we could have done it better but there was no time left.
In this article today, let’s explore what procrastination is, why we procrastinate, and also the strategies that helped me overcome procrastination.
Table of Contents
What is Procrastination?
Procrastination is the act of delaying or postponing tasks, often due to a lack of motivation, interest in the task at hand, or maybe sheer laziness. People who procrastinate may also have difficulty starting or completing projects and may engage in activities that are not related to the task at hand as a way of avoiding it. It can lead to feelings of guilt, stress, and a lack of productivity. Procrastination is a common problem and can have a negative impact on both personal and professional life thus it is of utmost importance that we understand the root causes of procrastination and also learn the strategies to overcome them.
Why Do We Procrastinate?
Procrastination is a common problem and is faced by many people, especially in our generation. With so many alternatives aiding the process of procrastination, it becomes really tough to stay focused and complete the task at hand. Procrastination is a complex behavior that can stem from multiple causes and might vary from person to person. Here are a few causes of procrastination that you should be aware of :
- Too many distractions: The ultimate reason for procrastination for our generation is that we have too many distractions, the most contributing factor being cell phones. We are so involved in the world of digital media and they are so well designed to keep us hooked.
- Fear of failure: Another huge cause of procrastination is the fear of not being successful in the task at hand. When we fear that we will fail, we tend to avoid doing the task altogether.
- Lack of motivation: If you do not have a strong reason behind doing a particular task, you probably would not like to spend any time on it. Unless we are motivated enough to do a particular task it will be put off for as long as we can.
- Perfectionism: Some individuals may have high standards for themselves and may procrastinate because they are unable to start a task until they believe they have all the information they need to complete it perfectly.
- Instant Gratification: The need to be instantly gratified is a major cause of procrastination. Instant gratification is the desire for immediate satisfaction or reward. The need to get the results now and here makes the person choose a task that instantly gives them something, instead of the long-term goals and their long-term benefits.
- Emotional and psychological issues: Some people may procrastinate as a result of underlying emotional or psychological issues, such as depression, anxiety, or ADHD.
- Poor organization and time-management skills: Some people do not procrastinate purposely. It is just their poor management skills. Such people do not have an idea about organizing their time or tasks and hence they end up being procrastinators.
Side Effects of Procrastination
Procrastination can have a number of negative impacts on your life. For some people, the degree of these negative impacts may be manageable, while others may have to face a lot of troubles and this habit of procrastination can hamper their life to a great extent.
- It causes stress and anxiety. This is the most common side effect of procrastination. When you put off a task for a long time, they cause more stress and anxiety as the deadline comes close.
- Reduced Creativity: Since procrastination leaves you with less time, there is a high chance that you would just try to finish the task somehow before the deadline. Hence you never get enough time to explore more aspects of it creatively.
- Missed Opportunities: This habit of procrastination may make you lose many opportunities as you tend not to immediately act and grab them.
- Poor performance: Since you have limited and lesser time before the deadline, you just want to complete the task anyhow. This reduces your efficacy and performance in the given task. Hence the results are also not that satisfying.
- Relationship issues: If you are a procrastinator, you may not be able to fulfill your duties in a relationship in a timely manner. This causes a drift between the partners and may lead to an unhealthy and unsatisfying relationship.
- Financial Issues: This habit of procrastination may also lead to financial issues as individuals may miss out on opportunities or not be able to complete tasks that could lead to financial gain. There may be times when procrastination can contribute to a direct financial loss.
- Low Self-esteem: Procrastination can lead to feelings of guilt and low self-esteem, as individuals may feel that they are not capable of completing tasks in a timely manner.
Strategies to Overcome Procrastination
Here are a few strategies that may help you to overcome procrastination
- 2-minute rule: If a task is going to take less than 2 minutes then promise yourself to never leave it for later. Something that will take 2 minutes now, may pile up to take an hour when left for later. So take out those 2 minutes right away and complete the task.
- To-Do List: Every morning set up a to-do list and place it somewhere you can see. Prioritize your task according to urgency and importance and set deadlines for them. When you keep seeing it again and again you would tend to get up and do the task finally. Having a complete morning routine also helps you to stay more active.
- Divide and rule: Break down the larger tasks into smaller and more manageable ones. This will make you feel less overwhelmed and the goals more actionable. So one major goal gets organized into several mini-goals. Mini-goals help a lot to overcome procrastination.
- Rewards on Mini-Goals: Every time you achieve a mini-goal, reward yourself with something. This will help you manage your need for instant gratification and keep you motivated for the future.
- Visualization techniques: Think about the time when the task would be over and visualize the results it will provide. This will keep you motivated throughout and help you overcome procrastination.
- Set goals that resonate with your values: Setting SMART (Specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, and timely) goals are good but you should also consider HEART goals.
- Mindfulness practice: Practice mindfulness and stay present at the moment. This can help you stay focused on the task at hand and avoid getting lost in thoughts about the future or past. This will help you overcome procrastination. You can also try mindfulness meditation to keep your mind focused.
- Use Focus mode on your phones: To overcome procrastination you need to remove your distractions first. You can use an app to set focus mode on your phone where only the apps you want will be active while the rest of the apps will be disabled for the time being.
- Know why you started: The best way to overcome procrastination is to find your inner motivation by reminding yourself why you started.
- Be kind to yourself: Finally, be kind to yourself. Remember that everyone struggles with procrastination at times and that it’s not a character flaw but a habit that can be changed.