Do you struggle in getting things done? You schedule an important piece of work but end up watching an entire season on Netflix. You’re not alone if you’re prone to postponing important stuff knowing that it will have a negative outcome. While not everyone is a procrastinator, most of us resolve to handle a task but find endless reasons to defer it.
A psychology professor at DePaul University, Joseph Ferrari is of the opinion that we all put off tasks. But not all of us are procrastinators. So, it’s important to understand what procrastination really means and how it impacts our professional life.
What is procrastination?
Simply put, procrastination is an act of delaying a task. It is when you do one thing knowing that you should be doing something else. It is an invisible force that prevents you from doing what you set out to do. We can say procrastination is an emotional reaction to something we don’t like to do. The more difficult a task, the more likely you’re to procrastinate.
If we look at stats, 95% of people procrastinate. If you’re putting off a task right now, that task is likely to have many procrastination-worthy characteristics. Unfortunately, our guilt and shame of not accomplishing something make us procrastinate even further and we get stuck in a vicious cycle of self-defeat.
Scientifically speaking, procrastination happens when the limbic or emotional part of our brain takes over the prefrontal cortex or the rational part. The logical part of your brain simply succumbs the moment you choose to watch YouTube or consume social media over work. It is not about time management or self-management. It is about managing our thoughts and actions.
How procrastination is affecting your work and daily routine
Procrastination affects our lives at different levels. Whether you’re a student, employee, or entrepreneur, procrastination can seriously impact your mental and physical health. It robs you of time, one of the most precious assets in life. Here is what else procrastination can do to your work and daily routine:
- Missed opportunities
- Hard to meet deadlines
- Decreased self-esteem
- Low quality work
- Poor decision-making power
- Bad reputation
- Poor health
It is absolutely critical to deal with procrastination if you don’t want those consequences to ruin your career. It’s simple to overcome procrastination, but it is not easy.
Mel Robbins, a famous motivational speaker and TV host, is of the opinion that procrastination is a form of stress relief and a habit that anybody can break with simple science.
Effective tips to avoid procrastination
Here are some simple and effective tips that will help you break this habit and become more productive and healthy:
Break down work into small steps
We often set big goals but fail miserably to achieve them. It is because we don’t break our goals or projects into small, achievable tasks. Whenever you feel like procrastinating or less motivated, try to take a step back and start by taking small steps towards your goal.
For example, just work on a small task for five minutes and you’re likely to keep going. Instead of planning to work for two or three hours, just plan to work for ten minutes. Making progress in small steps will motivate you to do more.
Focus on the reward
When you identify a positive outcome of your actions, you feel motivated. So, focus on rewards when you try to accomplish something. Our environment also plays a role when we work. For example, a less interruptive surrounding will increase your chances of keeping your focus on work.
However, when you do something with a particular reward in your mind, you’ll pay less attention to your environment. Visualize how amazing it will be to get things done.
Schedule things considerately
Here is another natural way to overcome your tendency to procrastinate: give yourself hard deadlines and then schedule things accordingly. A scheduled deadline will make it easy for you to get things done. Most importantly, honor deadlines as if your supervisor created them.
People that are good at scheduling and project planning are less likely to waste their time doing less important things. It might be a good idea to use an app that could help you stay on schedule and track your work.
Learn how to forgive yourself
Forgiving yourself for procrastinating will help you move on. It is understandable and natural to procrastinate. In some cases, procrastination may have some good output. Nonetheless, learn how to forgive yourself and stop labeling yourself a procrastinator.
If you have been struggling with your habit of delaying work for a while, it’s time to break that cycle and refocus on taking small steps toward your goals.
Understand why you procrastinate
There are so many reasons why people procrastinate. For example, perfectionists procrastinate because they wait for a perfect moment to do something or they procrastinate out of fear that they will produce low-quality work.
Understand what kind of procrastinator you are. Do some research to find out the pattern of procrastinating by observing your feelings, behaviors, thoughts, and situations when you feel like avoiding work. Do you feel anxious when you plan to work? What makes you postpone important tasks? Is it stress or do you simply avoid getting things done because they are boring?
Once you understand your pattern, you would be able to come up with strategies to overcome it. Remember, hold yourself accountable in a self-compassionate, positive way.
Shut off tempting interruptions
We get into something when we procrastinate. For example, some people turn to their mobile devices when they procrastinate. Get rid of whatever encourages you to procrastinate. If you spend too much time on social media, turn off your phone during work. Try to regain your focus by identifying and then eliminating the trigger.
While procrastination helps you learn how to manage delays, don’t let it ruin your career. Stop avoiding doing things that matter the most. Procrastination might give you a little reward in the form of stress relief, but it will only lead to big worries in your life. Instead of giving in to procrastination, interrupt this habit.