Procrastinators, If Not Now, When?
Author : Adam Shafqat | Published On : 02 Mar 2021
Procrastination is the practice of carrying out less urgent tasks in preference to more urgent ones, or doing more pleasurable things in place of less pleasurable ones, and thus putting off impending tasks to a later time, sometimes to the "last minute" before the deadline. - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.
The secret of getting ahead is getting started. - Mark Twain
There's no single type of procrastinator and no single explanation for why procrastinators do their thing, or, rather, don't do the things they should be doing.
What I see in my coaching practice are three types of procrastinators:
- Chronic procrastinators, who have difficulty starting and finishing most tasks.
- Situational procrastinators, who avoid certain kinds of tasks.
- Rebellious procrastinators, who dodge or evade imposed tasks.
Regardless of type, procrastinators usually feel bad, stressed and guilty about their habit of not getting things done in a timely manner or not getting things done at all.
If I could stand the guilt or stress I probably would be a procrastinator. But, I don't do well when I'm stressed, falling behind, missing deadlines, or late. I hate being late with library books! For me, the benefits of doing things on time far outweighs the high costs of procrastination.
Yet who doesn't have difficulties choosing between more pleasurable tasks that give you a quick fix and the tougher less pleasurable tasks that require discipline, commitment and getting your hands dirty or at least sweaty?
Do I go to exercise class or stay at home and watch a movie?
Should I order in food or make something healthy?
Should I tackle that tough project or wait till I clear my Inbox?
What you find if you do a Google search, or a literature review of the research on procrastination, or consult procrastinators, are:
*Irrational reasons for postponing doing something they know they will feel bad about later.
*Concerns about others controlling, imposing or dictating deadlines or tasks that they would prefer to decide for themselves (the rebellious type!).
*Anxiety-producing stress leading to a range of responses and emotions:
Desire to avoid any unpleasant and uncomfortable feeling;
Worry about not doing something well (perfectionist streak);
Fear of not knowing how to do something (incompetence);
Paralysis due to the complexity or number of tasks (fear of failure); and
Certainty they might not be making a right decision.
Are you are one of those people who gets down on yourself about not getting stuff done? Are you easily distracted? Impulsive? Or prone to avoiding stressful tasks in favour of more pleasurable pursuits?
If you are saying "yes" then here are some ideas that will help you kick the procrastination habit. Or at least minimize the negative impact of putting off tasks till later.
The first three ideas are foundations for the others. As with any change, it's best to start with small steps.
Work with a short timeline - day to day, week to week, and month to month.
Don't make a big resolution - "I'm done with procrastinating and I'm doing everything on-time from now on" - because that will never work.
What is most important is to never stop trying. When you fall short of your good intentions, which is inevitable, don't give up. Try again.
Ask for help - there is usually someone in your life who can help you break down that long list of tasks into smaller and more manageable pieces.
Self-impose a few deadlines with tasks that are important to you and, if that doesn't work, seek out externally imposed deadlines (e.g. from your spouse or a friend)
Counter the temptation to surf the Net by using apps that block you from Facebook or other sites that are more pleasurable than the task at hand.
Use timers on your smart phone or on your stove to keep you on-time and track.
Recognize you are compromising longer-term goals (that really matter) for short term pleasures (that just prompt you to seek out more short-term fun to cover up your feelings of guilt).
Tell yourself a story about the importance of conquering procrastination, how it If all else fails, work with a coach! You need help.
I coach people who want to improve their professional lives. And when your work and career are thriving, coaching can also help keep it that way.
Clients are generally physicians, lawyers, businesspeople, professionals or artists who need to become even more productive in the office, the conference room or in the studio... See workplace challenges in a fresh light... Change behaviors that are limiting success with patients, clients or colleagues... Even plan a new career path...
All want to find a healthy balance between their professional and personal lives, since each one has so much influence on the other.