We know we are wasting time. And we know it well, still we do it. So, Lets see why do we do it !There is an endless list of things that I do in the last minute or sometimes after the last minute (even when I am fully aware that it has to be done and even when time and again I have paid penalty for doing it late), like filing my IT return, paying my electricity and water bills, paying club subscriptions, tackling a difficult task at work etc.
Even sometime chores like cleaning the garage, doing the laundry, visit to the dentist, take me forever. The word ‘waste’ may sound dramatic, but it’s really not. Putting off something for later that needs to be done anyways is called Procrastination. It is basically the disconnect between intention and implementation.
I believe we all do it sometimes.
Sometimes staringat our Facebook page takes priority over going to the gym (which must have been the ‘New Year Resolution’).
Email, Twitter, Facebook, food, Netflix or any activity which is not contributing towards the important task at hand, are a procrastinator’s best friends.
What makes procrastination so robust even though we know how much it affects not only our productivity but also our peace of mind? The list of things we can procrastinate is endless but the list of reasons for why we procrastinate is limited.
Here are the possible reasons for procrastination:-
1. Discomfort or Pain: Think of an action you’ve been avoiding and imagine yourself starting the action. Do you feel something unpleasant, like stress, doubt, fear, shame, vulnerability, or any other form of discomfort?
This unpleasant feeling is a kind of pain and this is the reason you have been avoiding to initiate the action. But you have to realise that this can lead you to get caught in a nasty circle of stress. Putting off that dreaded chore is a way to get some short term relief.
The flip side is that you will still have to deal with your task in the future, which may make you feel frustrated or guilty – and cause you more stress. If the stress is bad enough to keep you from getting things done, it will definitely affect you in other ways too, like trouble sleeping, unnecessary thoughts, trouble focusing, or headaches.
2. Overconfident or thrill seekers: There are people who perform better under pressure. Completing the task successfully at the last minute gives them a euphoric rush and makes them overconfident. This may give thrill to the procrastinator but it can be unsettling for the people around, especially when they don’t know your this habit.
3. Fear of failure: You cannot fail at something when you don’t do it at all, right?! Unfortunately this is an unproductive way of thinking and it will cost you heavily at your workplace.
These kinds of procrastinators are very concerned with what others think of them; what if they fail in their task, their ability will be in question.
Remember worrying gets you absolutely nowhere in life and people who live in constant fear of failure, can become incapacitated. If you want to soar in life, you need to unload what is weighing you down. So turn your thoughts to action-based activities.
4. Anxiety: Anxiety compels your brain to overreact to negative emotions. Anxiety prone people make decisions that are skewed by past burns.
To stop anxious feelings, take 10 slow deep breaths and try to replace the negative thought with a positive one.
You expect the worst, even when there’s nothing to fear. People with anxiety spend so much energy worrying that they find it hard to carry out everyday tasks.
5. Depression: Depression alters your brain chemistry. Indecisiveness is a symptom common enough in depressed individuals to have been included in the criteria of disorder.
You may have very little energy, even for hobbies and activities you love. It’s also common for the depressed individual to feel helpless and self-critical, find it hard to plan ahead, or get frustrated easily and give up.
6. Indecisive: There are situations when taking a clear cut decision is either emotionally or financially draining. So the procrastinator avoids it till the extent possible. Not making decision absolves procrastinators of responsibility for the outcome of events. But again it’s a very temporary relief.
7. Tired: The level of your energy, willpower and enthusiasm changes every day and depends on many things, including whether you’ve had enough sleep, you skipped a meal, you are over loaded with work in your office etc. If you’re tired, it’s harder for your brain to tune out distractions and focus long enough to finish what you need to do.
What can be done to get over Procrastination. First of all, instead of considering it as a big problem, think of it as a red flag – a sign that something is missing. Something is holding you back from getting things done.
Be honest with yourself about what might be holding you back. Once you know the root cause of it, try to eliminate that reason.
If it’s just tiredness, then you got to give yourself some shut-eye time. Or if you think it’s your fear of failure, then tackle it head-on as this is the only solution to overcome it. Or if you think you’re struck because of a more serious health problem, talk to your doctor to make sure you get the right diagnosis and treatment.
Keep your mood in check with regular exercise, limit alcohol and caffeine, never skip a meal and get enough sleep. Start with the task that you are procrastinating the most about as they will give you the greatest sense of accomplishment.
Break big projects into smaller ones you can do more easily. Reward yourself when you make progress. It’s one thing to procrastinate on the small things, but it’s quite another to procrastinate on the big issues in life. Prioritise your things to do.
Remember you have to deal with everything that’s on your mind or else it will become a huge room without any doors and windows to enter into it.