You may delay but time will not.Benjamin Franklin
Are you familiar with this scenario whereby you want to get things done but you don’t? I get it. We all have days we conquer the world while others ,we don’t want to get out of bed. It seems like that’s how life is supposed to be but is that how things should be done? Procrastination is not mundane. It is an activity that ruins your life for no reason.
The first time you start a project , you are enthusiastic and motivated. Nobody has to remind you to work . It comes naturally. You begin to see results and you feel like you are on top of the world.
As days go by, things change. You suddenly feel tired just by thinking about your project. You drag yourself to complete tasks. The postponing game begins. You begin telling yourself that you will carry out your responsibilities tomorrow. Tomorrow turns to next week until you never get things done.
Why does our motivation diminish yet we were so fired up from the start? The person who was once kicking sheets to get out of bed at 5:00am suddenly extends their waking time with five hours. The motivation you had to start your project doesn’t last to the end. Its easier to start a project than completing it.
Most of the time,the problem is procrastination.
Every human being is lazy by default. I know that you might not agree but that’s just the reality. We are no longer living in the ages whereby we struggle to survive. The days of going to the river to fetch water and hunt for food are gone. Tap water ,supermarkets, electricity and boutiques are easily accessible.
This comfort that the current human experiences tends to make us procrastinate. Why should you get yourself into an uncomfortable situation when all you needs are easily accessible. Of course you cannot expect someone to go to fetch water from a river yet they get running water at their house.
Science agrees that people tend to procrastinate when they have no need. Why get yourself to do a task when you can do it tomorrow? Makes sense right? But the reality is it does more damage than we think.
Let’s now look at reasons why people procrastinate,the effects and tricks to mitigate the ordeal.
Why Do We Procrastinate?
The first step to solving a problem is identifying it and the best way to deal with procrastination is to learn the reasons behind it. Since we are different,not all reasons resonate with everyone. You need to understand yourself in order to know where you fall.
Some of the reasons are:
- Abstract goals. They are general goals that make the question at hand undefined hence making one susceptible to procrastination. For instance, you might set a goal to double your income in the next five years. Unless you make the goal concrete you are likely to never achieve it. Instead you can set a goal to increase your annual income by 15% for the next five years. Abstract goals demotivate us to action hence make us procrastinate.
- Delay in the expected reward. We live in a society which is driven by instant gratification. It is easier to carry out activities that give instant results rather than long term rewards. People tend to put off activities that they take time to see results .
- Focus on the future options.
- Optimism about the future. Ever heard of the phrase that the future looks brighter? It is motivational but it may drag you behind. Just because the future looks promising doesn’t mean that one should put off work in the present. It can cause procrastination because it makes one wait for the situation to change without them doing anything about it.
- Indecisiveness. Decision making is not an easy task especially when it entails two or more options that appeal to you. But this may be lagging you behind in terms of getting work done.
- Feeling overwhelmed. Having many things to do at the same time might make you feel overwhelmed. If you are anything like me, you would throw in the towel and not do anything at all because you can’t work under pressure.
- Anxiety. One might put off work because they are anxious about the future outcome. It’s not difficult to find people who are afraid of success. And so they sabotage their present by thinking about the future and worrying about it. Fear of evaluation or negative feedback can cause anxiety which leads to procrastination.
- Perfectionism. The desire to have everything done to its perfection can do more harm than good. Of course nobody wants poorly done work but over perfecting it doesn’t match up. I know of a lady who can spend the whole day scrubbing the wall to remove a tiny stain at the extent of her other responsibilities. Your work can great but if you have to keep wasting time on unnecessary details you are going to procrastinate.
- Prioritization of short term mood. Instant gratification is the order of the day in the society we live in. One would rather read a magazine and take a nap rather than writing an essay that is needed at work/school the next day. So you end up prioritizing short term pleasure than long term results.
- Lack of energy. You need energy to carry out your duties. But sometimes you don’t have it and so you end up procrastinating. Lack of energy may be caused by depression, underlying medical condition or laziness.
- Other causes can be low self-efficacy, a perceived lack of control, low perseverance, impulsivity, destructibility, rebellion, sensation seeking, fear of failure, self-sabotage ,self-handicapping ,task aversion or Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder(ADHD)
The Dangers of Procrastination and Why You Should Overcome it
Procrastination may seem like you are winning,seeking pleasure and avoiding plans.Putting off things once in awhile cannot do much harm. However, chronic procrastination can affect your life by lowering your self esteem, poor study habits, depression and anxiety. The consequences can be a great deal if you do not take steps to manage it.
Knowing the effects of procrastination can be a great way of overcoming it. They include:
- Lose of precious time. The worst thing about procrastination is the moment you realize that you are two years older yet nothing has changed. Its a terrible feeling because you can’t turn back time and you have to live with the regret.
- Lose of opportunities. When you have opportunities at the palm of your hands, you can take advantage of them to improve yourself but when you let them go, its difficult to get them with the same advantages.
- Lowering of your self-esteem. Procrastination can be caused by lower self-esteem but it can also enforce it. You soon start wondering what is wrong with you which eats away your confidence slowly leading you to holding yourself back.
- Poor decision making. Emotions heavily influence the decisions we make and procrastination affects how we feel at some degree. You tend to make decisions based on your current situation and the circumstances you are facing.
- Health risks. Procrastination is linked to mental health problems like stress and anxiety which are linked to mental health issues. If it leads to depression, other areas of your life will also be affected.
- Reputation damage. Nobody wants empty promises. When you keep saying that you will do something and you don’t your reputation inevitably gets tarnished.
- Ruining your career. Your actions affect your performance. Procrastination prevents you from meeting deadlines or achieving your targets. This may make you miss promotions or worse lose your job.
- Inability to achieve goals. We set goals because we have a desire to improve our lives. However, procrastination seems to come in full force whenever we entertain the thoughts of our goals. Uncover the root cause behind the procrastination if it’s causing you not to achieve your goals,otherwise you might never be able to achieve them.
Practical Tips to Help You Overcome Procrastination
So far, we have been able to look at the causes and effects of procrastination. Let’s take a look at exactly how we can overcome the ordeal.
- Get a planner. You can get a book planner or an app to help you. Deadlines have a way of motivating procrastinators and they seem to respond better when they feel pressured. Getting a planner is a great way to pressure you to achieve your goals. Apps such as procraster tracks personal productivity and provides motivation fuel whenever you feel like procrastinating. You can access it here.
- Do your most dreaded task first. As we earlier stated, feeling overwhelmed is a major cause of procrastination. Putting off your most dreaded task tends to make you feel overwhelmed hence leading to procrastination. An easy way to beat the ordeal is to start your day with your most dreaded task. I know the thought of it makes you grumpy but its a great way to beat procrastination. After you complete it, you are motivated to do the small tasks without obstacles.
- Take breaks . In my blog on how to manage stress, I addressed the importance of taking breaks when feeling overwhelmed. You can read it in this link Taking a break in between your activities helps you stay motivated and avoid fatigue which causes procrastination. You can take a ten minutes break after every activity.
- Change your environment. Monotony has a way of making the activities you are working on to become boring. If you work from home, you can try working from your kitchen or bedroom just to have a different atmosphere to work from.
- Plan your day the night before. Prioritize on your most important activities during your morning hours . Planning your day the night before gives you an overview of your priorities. It also helps you track your productivity.
- Break down a big project into mini tasks. Sometimes it can feel overwhelming when you have a big task to accomplish. Breaking it down to manageable tasks can lift the heavy load off your back. If you are supposed to write a book, you can break the task into writing a certain number of pages per day making your task easily manageable.
There is much to say about procrastination and the antidote is simple; just get to work. But I know that its easier said than done and its easier to put things off until tomorrow or some day later. I have highlighted some practical tips to help you overcome it but at the end of the day you and only you have the power to overcome it. Take responsibility of your life and stop procrastinating.
Thank you so much for reading the blog. If you enjoyed it,fell free to share it with your friends and family who procrastinate. Let’s meet on my next blog.