Procrastination is the act of putting things off. We all procrastinate from time to time, but for many people, procrastination becomes a destructive habit.
Why do we procrastinate?
There are several reasons people procrastinate. Here are some common ones:
You dislike the task at hand. The kind of self-talk that goes along with this: "I hate doing dishes. I'll get to the dishes when I feel like it."
Choosing to do other activities first. "I'm going to get to that project...later. But first I need to make supper." And then after supper: "I better do the dishes." And then, "I'm tired. I'll just watch TV for a few minutes..."
Fear of failure. "I can't think of anything interesting to say. I'll write that report when I think of a really great idea."
Do any of those sound familiar?
The Antidote for Procrastination
Overcoming procrastination involves a conscious effort to get activities done rather than putting them off.
First, become aware of the things you are putting off. Once you identify what things you are procrastinating, you can think about the reasons you are putting things off. When you honestly admit to yourself the reasons you have been procrastinating, you can decide what to do. You essentially have three options:
You can continue putting the task off (which probably increases stress).
You can cross the task off your to do list, and just decide not to complete it.
You can get the task done.
If you have decided that the task is important and you want to get it done, you will need to change your way of thinking about the task. Procrastination continues by thinking that you will do the task when you "feel like it," when you "come up with a good idea," when you "get motivated," or when you "have time."
Instead of "when," think in terms of "now."
What can you start today that will get you at least a little bit closer to finishing the task? Start with whatever you can manage. Work on the task for 5 minutes. Put your ideas down on paper, even if you don't think they are great ideas. Start the task even if you do not feel motivated to do it right now. Make the time.
What are you putting off? Get started now!