Procrastination

ProcrastinationAdmitting that you are procrastinating and understanding the common reasons for falling into the procrastination trap is the first step to avoiding it.

Causes of procrastination usually fall into three main categories; mental, physical, and emotional.

The following is a list of the most common reasons for procrastination. Do any of them remind you of yourself?

FEAR

Fear of taking a risk, a fear of the unknown. Not many people really like change. Even fewer people relish the unpredictable. This fear can at times lead some people to believe that to do nothing is better than taking action that might possibly lead to making a mistake.

For instance, a child avoids asking their parent for something out of fear that the answer will be no. Or we choose not to apply for a job because we are scared we will be told we aren’t good enough to do it.

FATIGUE

Fatigue, both physical and mental can cause lack of focus, apathy, and weariness and of course putting things off – procrastination.

In order to overcome fatigue, it’s important to know whether it’s mental or physical or both. Mental fatigue comes when we simply do not have the mental resources available right now. Lack of physical resources causes physical fatigue. As many of us are all too aware, suffering’s from one has the potential to cause the other. And in order to deal with it, the first step is always to identify the cause. Then you can take steps to reduce it.

Remember though, many physical reasons for avoidance are not procrastination, but rather intelligent decisions. For instance, waiting to do gardening in the evening when it is cooler is a logical decision as apposed to putting off doing the garden at all because it’s too hard a job.

LACK OF RESPONSIBILITY

Not taking responsibility for yourself and your decisions is an emotional crutch. Beware of blaming others for the things that are wrong in your life. If you constantly find yourself blaming others for your dissatisfaction with your job, with your house, with your family, then perhaps it’s time for you to take action. Take responsibility for making the changes that will make your happy. Very few of us get happiness handed to us on a plate, expect to have to work for it and remember to be proud of what you achieve!

ANXIETY AND/OR DEPRESSION

Anxiety and depression are part of the downward spiral often caused by procrastination. They are not only results of procrastination but can be reasons to procrastinate even further. Believing that misfortune is impending may cause you to delay doing a particular task. Putting the task off causes you to be depressed and anxious about whether or not you will complete the project. The logical thing to do would be to jump in and get it over with, but procrastination is not logical. Rather than think about it, we delay the project even further.

ESCAPE/AVOIDANCE

When faced with an unpleasant or difficult task do you delay doing it? Unless you are honestly waiting for a time when working conditions will be better, you are only prolonging the pain. Take for example, the student that avoids working on an essay until the day before it’s due, then stays up all night to finish it in time, cursing the stress, the difficulty, the teacher etc.

NO PRIORITIES

Some people don’t know how to prioritise their time effectively. They spend each day jumping from task to task, unable to complete anything. People that have a hard time saying “no” are especially susceptible to this. We naturally prioritise things in our lives, mostly without really thinking about it. Watching the baby in the bath is always more important than picking the newspaper up off the lounge floor. When we run into trouble is when, figuratively speaking, we are watching the baby and the oven catches on fire. Juggling priorities is a part of life and just as we would snatch the baby from the bath and deal with the fire, there is always a way. The first step is always to Know what tasks / responsibilities / work you have on hand. You can’t establish priorities if you don’t know what you have on your plate. And things change, so review your workload regularly, moving things up and down your list (whether mental or a physical piece of paper) as appropriate.

MONOTONY AND BOREDOM

When a task holds no variety, reward, or incentive it can be difficult to maintain interest in it. Recognising the cause is necessary in order to deal with it appropriately. Tiredness can play a part here as well. Perhaps you need to look harder to see the benefit of completing the job or mix other, more interesting, tasks in with the boring one. If it’s simply fatigue, maybe you just need to rest.

EXTERNAL PRESSURES

Have you put off getting your degree because your family needed you? Have you postponed a holiday because your boss says it’s too busy at work? To counter the effects of this type of procrastination, you need to take charge of your life. You cannot always control the external pressures in your life – your boss can tell you that you can’t take that holiday right now – but it is up to you how you react to this. Focus on the positive, positive, positive! Okay, so the holiday isn’t going to happen exactly when I want it to, but it will happen a few weeks later and I am going to have such fun! And when I get the “I would have been on holiday now if not for that boss…” blues, make sure you have planned to treat yourself with something special to keep your spirits up. When you cannot control the external pressures, take steps to get around them. The important thing is not to allow yourself to feel powerless and do nothing.

CONFUSION

Sometimes procrastination is the result of confusion over how to tackle a specific job and the knowledge that if you have to a restart a project, or do it over, it will take a lot longer to finish. Only one piece of advice here, and it’s quite simple: If you don’t know, ask! And if you don’t know who to ask, ask someone! It would be the rare individual who would prefer you to blunder on in confusion because you were afraid to admit you didn’t know what you were doing, than have you ask someone for help. Asking for help isn’t always easy, but swallow your pride. It’s always easier in the long run!

FORGETFULNESS

Does anyone ever really forget? Of course they do – sometimes we are concentrating on one thing and others slip our minds. However, be mindful that maybe you are consciously pushing something out of your mind, or subconsciously ignoring it. If you procrastinate through forgetfulness, you need to pay attention to when and why you do it. Precautionary steps may need to be taken to avoid overusing “I forgot” as an excuse.

MANIPULATION-DEPENDENCY ON OTHERS

Do you delay doing a job so long that others step in to help you? Some people take advantage of others by way of procrastination. This particularly stands out in team environments. When a group of people are working together and one of them is a procrastinator, the others will take up the slack in order to get the job done. But they won’t like doing it and it isn’t going to help your popularity. When we find ourselves on the other side of this situation, where we feel we are carrying someone else, it is important not to procrastinate and not do anything about it but blame. Take responsibility for improving the situation and talk to the person about how you feel. Be honest without blaming and aim for solutions rather than condemnation. Action is the key to beating procrastination. We all procrastinate a little, it’s human nature. But don’t let it impact on your life or stop you achieving your goals.

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