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Procrastination: What It Is and How to Avoid It

Updated on August 17, 2013
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Putting off until the last minute is something we all have occasion to do. But, for some of us procrastination is a way of life, creating disorganization, chaos, and stress. Unfortunately, the more stressful the task, the more likely we are to procrastinate and the more we procrastinate the more stressful the task. Understanding procrastination and developing a strategy to avoid it is important if we are going to overcome this monster and re-establish order and balance in our lives.

Why Do People Procrastinate?

Contrary to popular believe, procrastinators are typically not perfectionists. While it might make sense (and for some it is very true indeed) for procrastination to steam from the desire to achieve and unobtainable perfection, this does not seem to be the case for most chronic procrastinators. Instead, research shows that people are more likely to procrastinate if they are not confident in the task before them. Furthermore, researchers suggest that chronic procrastinators do so automatically. it is a habit, albeit a bad one. The good news, however, is that habits can be broken.

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Am I a Procrastinator? Signs and Symptoms

if you suspect that you may be a chronic procrastinator, you probably are. Here are some signs and symptoms to help you decide.

1. When something is boring or unpleasant do you substitute it with a lower priority task? Do you find something that will take less time to do instead?

2. Do you put things off in the name of needing to do more "research" or giving the project time to "marinate?"

3. Do you spend the majority of your time trying to think up a easier way to get the task done instead of just doing that task?

4. Do you spend time convincing yourself not to do the task? Perhaps telling yourself you are not capable or that someone else can do it better?

5. Do you consider yourself to be indecisive, disorganized, or forgetful?

if you answered yes to any of the questions above you just might be a chronic procrastinator (Like me).

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Controlling Procrastination: A Few Helpful Tips

If procrastination is a serious problem in your life, you may benefit from these helpful tips to get motivated and moving in the right direction.

1. Stop making a mountain out of a molehill. Instead, make a molehill out of a mountain. Generally, big tasks can be broken down into smaller pieces. it can be overwhelming to look at the big picture at times. Instead, concentrate on those little steps that will eventually get you to the end of your task. Break up work into smaller blocks of time that are easier to handle.

2. Schedule and structure you time. Planning your day or even your week may be helpful in ensuring you get things done. A planner, small notebook, or even a timer may keep you on task and moving forward.

3. Create short-term and achievable deadlines. if you have a deadline that you are likely to put off, create shorter deadlines within that project to help you meet your goal. Working little by little will relieve some of the pressure as your ultimate deadline approaches.

4. Why is later better? This is an important question to ask yourself. If you don't have a good answer then get up and do it.

5. Use the Buddy System. Your chances of doing the task will increase if you enlist the aide of family and friends.

6. Set up a reward system. Rewards are always motivating. Promise yourself a reward once the task is done.

7. Perfectionism should be avoided. Setting a goal of perfection often leaves you worrying about everything being perfect. That additional worry can actually slow you down and increase stress unnecessarily. Doing your best is always acceptable.

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    • Goodpal profile image

      Goodpal 4 years ago

      A good way to counter procrastination is to practice mindfulness. With practice detachment develops which helps coming out of the "emotional rut" - basic cause of procrastination.

      Have a Great Day!!

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