There’s not one point in life when you can truly say you did not procrastinate. From responding to work emails to washing your hair or even feeding yourself with food. Procrastination always has a time slot in our lives. You just want to take a few minutes to feed into your daily obsessions or you probably just don’t feel motivated to work it out for one or two reasons. I’ve been there so many times and I can’t begin to think of how agitated I get when deadlines are approaching.
What is Procrastination?
Wikipedia defines Procrastination as “the avoidance of doing a task that needs to be accomplished by a certain deadline.”
Psychology has proven that Procrastination is not merely a matter of emotions, particularly self-control, but when demotivating factors and hindrances come to play, they overrule self-control and that’s where procrastination sets in.
This is a typical example of how I procrastinated today; On my schedule, I planned to read on procrastination for an hour before putting up this blog post. Earlier today, I took a pretty relaxing bath and grabbed my cup of coffee. As I walked towards my desk while checking my Instagram feed, I got a dm from a close friend, quickly checked it and that was the beginning of a long conversation. Relatable right? In my mind, I knew the convo had to end immediately (self-control) but she was telling me something interestingly ‘important’. By the time I realized, we were 30 minutes into the conversation. That is how my procrastination starts (hindering factors)
In this article, you’ll learn
- Types of Procrastinators
- Reasons why we procrastinate
- How to stop procrastination
We all act differently towards work and our attitudes may define how we become procrastinators. The 4 types of procrastinators include;
A perfectionist is one who has high regard for work standards and does not give room for flaws. Being a perfectionist can make you a procrastinator in the long run because you want to evaluate every activity with a high level of performance. Thus, one tends to postpone events to ‘better’ days or hours for ‘perfect’ results to make them satisfied.
Dreams do come true. However, ‘Rome was not built in a day,’ they say. Some people look into the future with hopes of attaining success in a matter of minutes. Hence, they start on a good note, but eventually, when the results are not forthcoming, they procrastinate
3. The Anxious One
This is the person who is always anxious about having to deal with so much work that they completely avoid it. This category of procrastinators waits until the very last minute before taking action because they let their emotions lead them towards work.
4. The Fun/Busy One
This individual keeps himself busy with other things, have all the fun, except for doing that work. You find that they are avoiders towards a particular task but not to others. Most often than not, these people are not motivated enough to start work
Having identified yourself among one of these four groups, you may be wondering what actually makes you avoid or postpone events you know you should be working hard on. How do we procrastinate? Here are the 6 actual reasons why we procrastinate
- Physical and mental exhaustion
- Your environment
- Abstract Goals
- Results in the future
Let’s delve deeper and explain each of these and get to know which ones are your triggers
Physical and Mental exhaustion
This is one of the most common problems individuals have to deal with to overcome procrastination. When your body and your mind are physiologically exhausted from overwhelming factors, the natural reaction is to have some rest in order to allow your body to recharge. Unfortunately for many, you never feel ready to get back on track and that breeds procrastination.
Just imagine having to take a soothing bath and then sit right behind your work desk, as I did. Your intuition might tell you to go back to the relaxed mode and by that, get back to bed or lay in my comfy couch while catching up on a series or social media. Your environment plays a big role here. It is your biggest motivator. If your environment is too conducive, it’s a big disadvantage as well as if it’s too distractive. You’d have to find your balance.
As explained earlier, a perfectionist wants to get things done based on their defined standards. Once perfection is not attained, it is difficult to move on. You get stuck most of the time. On top of how irritating it can get not being able to perfect your performance, perfectionists invest a substantial amount of time and effort in events that are far-fetched that they tend to procrastinate. For others, the satisfaction they get in continuing one venture prevents them from attempting another, leading to procrastination.
Fear of the known and unknown
When new habits are being formed, fear of negative feedback and anxiety usually occurs. You often think of the opinions of others rather than focusing on how to make things work. This puts you in a negative mental framework towards work and eventually, push the actual work aside
It’s important to set goals in life. It helps you prioritize and value time and effort. However, if your approach to setting goals is wrong, the result will also be wrong. Imagine dreaming to visit the Bahamas in a year but you have zero dollars in your bank account. The goal here is to work hard to earn some cents to buy your ticket and other essentials for the trip while maintaining a stable income. Rather than searching on Pinterest for where to stay in the Bahamas, the goal-getter here would start by waking up early, get dressed and get to work.
Results in the future
I’d use myself as an example. As a lifestyle blogger, I understand before reaching even half of the income you aspire to get from all the hard work you put into creating content, it takes about two years to realize you’re actually earning from the blog. For one blogger, he/she will completely avoid it because there is no motivation and move on to something else or he/she will start excited and later procrastinate because you keep thinking, ‘I’m working so hard but no reward.’ There goes Procrastination
Now it’s finally time to look at how all these factors can be tackled with head-on without you even realizing it. These are specific actions you can take to increase productivity levels. They are simple but its effects are enormous
Know your why
Honestly, if you don’t know why you’re supposed to be working instead of lying in bed, whatever technique a psychologist or therapist shows you will not work because there is no drive to beat procrastination. For example, I know that I have to complete my internal medicine and surgery lectures before going back to school when the time comes, else, I’m definitely going to struggle when I get back to school where there’ll be more hoarding of lecture notes which potentially, could lead to bad grades. I don’t want to fail, that is my Why. It’s even better when you put your Why down or paste them on a corkboard where it’s so visible as a constant reminder.
The 2-minute rule for Procrastination
I’ve never gone back to procrastination with this rule. The 2-minute rule was formulated by James Clear, where he proposes to put your mind to doing everything in 2 minutes. For example, when I had to write this super long blog post, I thought, “What if I finish this in 2 minutes?” Once I took out my desktop to start typing (after my long convo), I didn’t give myself a break apart from getting a snack while listening to some classical music. That’s how it works. You think it’s just 2 minutes and then you say to yourself. “let me just continue and finish this,” and by the time you realize you’ve achieved your goal for the day.
Break everything down and stay organized
In setting your goals, try and scale them down to the near future and work according to how much you can take in a day. For example, as I work hard towards becoming a medical doctor someday, I draw up my daily schedule in a way that includes all the minutes and seconds and attach a specific task to it in an organized form. For particular subjects, I chose to learn the scope and then the anatomy and then the physiology, and so on before moving on to the next. Don’t just say you’re learning The Respiratory System today. It’s not the best.
Learn From Successful People
Finally, Brian Tracy states in his book, Eat That Frog, that “Learn what successful people do and do the same. You can achieve the same results.” And that is very true. Once you learn about how they make things work out and understand their pitfalls, you are guided into success and avoid all the wrong paths including procrastination. They can be your biggest motivators
So which procrastinator or you and what are your triggers? Let me know in the comment section below and I hope you’ll find a way to fix procrastination because it indeed, is the thief of time. And always remember that “the key to success is action.”