I tend to procrastinate. I can start my day with the best of intentions to get important tasks done, but oftentimes I soon find myself detouring from the path. I end up filling my hours with busyness and errands. I know the most important things I need to do, and the ones that will bring me ultimate happiness; but I tend to put the more pressing things first (chores, errands, phone calls, etc).
People are usually aware of those times when they are procrastinating but they cannot seem to flip the switch. This can lead to all kinds of self-defeating thoughts and feelings of guilt, eventually causing depression. When we are procrastinating, it is usually over the things that will make our lives better. Not doing them usually results in unpleasant consequences.
So, why do we procrastinate? Why do we let meaningless situations get in the way of our dreams? Why do we put off starting a new business, losing the weight or taking that trip? What is really so important in life that we have to put our dreams on the back burner?
The reasons why we procrastinate are as varied as the number of people reading this blog post. However, once you understand the reasoning behind the hesitation, you have valuable insight on how to overcome your reluctance. Following are some of the key reasons that most people procrastinate:
Fear of failure. This affects many areas of our life–everything from writng a report to making a presentation. No one wants to fail at anything but failure is an assumption rather than a reality. My favorite acronym for FEAR is False Events Appearing Real. And, truthfully, we let our minds determine if we will be a failure or success. We really do not know until we try.
Fear of success. Not much different than the fear of failure. If we are successful at something, what else will that success bring? More complex tasks to complete? Again, the mind goes into overdrive trying to figure out the outcome of successfully completing a task or project.
Perfectionism. This is an unrealistic goal that we often set for ourselves. There is no such thing as “perfect” because “perfect” is judged by everyone differently. Just begin and lower your expectations. Eighty percent is much better than zero percent any day.
Overthinking. There are projects that need to be thought through, need planning and need a good timeline for completion but overthinking and not beginning the project at all is simply procrastination. You have to start somewhere. Begin where you can and work through the additional steps as they present themselves.
Poor time management. In today’s fast-paced world it is easy to get overwhelmed with career, family and a multitude of other tasks and that is a big reason why we procrastinate. We often make poor choices about what to do next based on our heart and not our heads. Then we wonder why we do nothave any time left for that sales presentation that you must make in two days. Taking baby steps to complete a project is better than ignoring it all together. Spend just a few minutes working on one task, chipping away every day and you will make progress. Don’t think that you have to carve out two and a half hours–that might unrealistic given your schedule. Take whatever time you can devote to a task and make a little progress.
Take some time to create a To Do list of all the things you would like to accomplish. Now prioritize these items in order of importance to you. Pick three of these to accomplish each day and you will see just how quickly you can move down that list and check things off.
I confess that I can be a huge procrastinator because I am a bit of hedonist. Although, I still wrestle with overthinking and poor time management from time to time, a lot of my business tasks often take a back seat because I play hard and often. Fortunately, I (eventually) come back to business with a lot of clarity and fresh ideas. I was happy to come across the following TED Talk by David Winass where he expresses that we allot tiime for procrastination because it has a valid part in a productive, creative process. David even suggests that we allot time for the right doses of procrastination.
I like David's perspective on procrasination…he makes it legitimate 🙂