The Dark Side of Procrastinating and How to Over Come It
Have you ever faced a situation whereby you have a list of things that you need to get done and deadlines to meet but you can’t seem to bring yourself to start working on it? You get into this delusional monologue trying to convince yourself that it is not a big deal, that you will sort it out in a bit. This is where procrastination comes into the picture, in which, there exists a gap between intention and action.
Procrastination is one of the challenges in life that many people have come to experience with at the very least, once in their lifetime. The act of procrastinating comes with a negative repercussion and more often than not, it is usually counterproductive. It does not make sense to delay or procrastinate as it does not yield favorable outcomes, yet we sometimes fall prey to it.
Procrastinating does not imply the act of being unproductive; it just simply means making a decision to perform simple, pleasurable tasks in place of the more important and urgent ones with deadlines. Studies have shown that over 20% of the adult population put off or try to avoid doing certain tasks by allowing themselves to be overtaken by distractions. No matter how well-structured and disciplined we are, there is occasionally the trap of the ‘spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak’. In the end, we find ourselves frittering away hours on trivial pursuits like online shopping, playing games, watching TV, and engaging in activities that sidetrack us from the things that matter.
One of the underlying factors behind procrastination is negative emotions and human behavior is almost completely driven by emotion. We are more inclined to things that make us feel good and avoid those that feel makes us feel bad. This reflects in the choice of doing things that feels good but put up resistance towards things that inflict unpleasurable feelings but matter. A good example of this behavior is expressed in the prevalence of relying on slimming products instead of having to go through the recommended exercise regime, as the latter is much more laborious.
According to researcher and speaker, Dr. Piers Steel, he explains that 95% of people procrastinate to a certain degree and on occasions, it can lead to a destructive and dangerous consequence. By putting off tasks until a later time, a procrastinator can never get any task accomplished on time. This may result in serious career struggles, persistent financial problems, and ultimately a diminished quality of life.
The occasional act of procrastination is not a matter to be alarmed. However, if it persists and is affecting one’s ability to function properly in the long run, then it may be signals of something more severe. This is because it is the precursor to chronic procrastination, leading to psychological disability and dysfunction in many dimensions of life. In clinical psychology, there is an apparent connection between anxiety, low sense of worth, and a self-defeating mentality that is associated with the tendency to procrastinate.
Once there is a realization that procrastination is a constant pattern in our life, the acknowledgment must be followed with action. It is best to nip the problem at the butt before it escalates and gets out of hand. This requires a procrastinator to reconstruct their behavior complex upon the foundation of a new core habit of taking action. Unfortunately, since it seems like a tedious task, there will be a tendency for a procrastinator to delay implementing the behavioral change. External aid and support do come in handy and individual accountability are also crucial.
There are certain measures that can be taken to eliminate procrastination. It requires some effort and willpower to be able to overcome this hurdle of procrastinating. Here is a list that serves as a guideline to improve your ability to manage this debilitating behavior.
1. Get Organized and Prioritize
One of the pre-requisite of getting started is to get organized. It allows you a clear mind on what needs to get done and the sense of structure will give you a good head start. Devote a planner or a calendar app to list out the tasks that need to be accomplished, according to priority. The ideal way to organize is to prioritize the important and urgent tasks and get the hard stuff out of the way first. Apart from having your priorities outlined clearly, it will be easier for you to keep track of your progress as well. Repeat to yourself the affirmation that you need to adhere to the list and direct your energy towards completing the assignments and tasks. Constantly remind yourself that action eliminates anxiety.
2. Decide on Attainable Goals and Set a Deadline
Sometimes we put too much pressure on ourselves to get a task done and when it gets too overwhelming, we resort to procrastinate. One easy solution to this dilemma is to establish reasonable and achievable goals, instead of big goals with vague plans. Once you have organized your priorities and identify your goals, deadlines must be set to ensure follow-through on the respective tasks.
We do not want to get stuck on the cycle of having a list but never getting close to completing it because there is no sense of urgency to get matters done. Setting a deadline entails having a specific date or time the tasks need to get done. Make it a practice to set deadlines for even little tasks and practice keeping to it. Starting small and doing it repetitively will make it easier, just like practice makes perfect. Making it a habit to keep to deadlines will help to eliminate procrastination from taking over.
3. Remove Distractions
Now it is time to get to work and you can increase the chances of completing the tasks on hand by staying focused. Remove any hints of distractions to avoid disruption. Discipline and willpower to resist distraction are one of our human capabilities, but why go through the trouble. Instead remove yourself from an environment that may prove a distraction or better yet, eliminate the cause of distraction. This is crucial to avoid you from being sidetracked and lead you to abandon the task on hand.
4. Use the Reward System
Getting a task completed is indeed an accomplishment and it feels good to get it out of the way. One way to reinforce the habit and to encourage such behavior would be to reward yourself for the accomplishment, regardless of how small it is.
Who doesn’t like getting a reward for a job well done? Establish your own reward system that is fitting for the occasion and you will discover how easy it is to dedicate yourself to focusing and completing the task at hand. The reward that comes at the end of completing a task serves to encourage and motivate task completion in order to reap the rewards.
5. Tell Someone about Your Goal and Deadline
In order to get things done, you must hold yourself accountable to see through your list and adhere to the deadlines. However, there might be occasions when you get a little sidetracked. In order to reduce the chances of slacking, you may up the bar by telling someone else about your goals and deadlines.
The act of sharing your goals and plans means that you will need to keep up the effort to make sure that you see it through. As an added bonus, when you indeed do accomplish your goals and completed the tasks that you set out to do, you will have someone to celebrate your accomplishments, no matter how big or small they are.