Procrastination is the putting off of tasks until they absolutely must be done. The task may be important or irrelevant, large or small. There are different ways of procrastinating and so many different reasons for procrastination. The unfortunate result is typically guilt, missed deadlines, late fees, and occasionally illness.
While everyone procrastinates for one reason or another and to varying degrees, as with any behavior the duration and intensity is what determines whether that behavior is dysfunctional. Some people go through their entire lives putting things off. They are either working frantically to do the things they have put off for a month or sitting around trying to figure out where they could possibly begin.
Why People Procrastinate
Perfectionism is a major cause of procrastination. These folks are waiting for the perfect conditions to exist to get started. Unfortunately, the perfect conditions will never exist so these projects often never get off the ground. For more information on Perfectionism check out the article titled “Perfectionism”.
Indecisiveness or unclear goals. When you have no clear vision of what you are trying to accomplish, how can you possibly be productive? Ask yourself what your ultimate vision or goal for the project is. What is the current situation, what is the vision upon completion, and what are the interim action steps to take you there?
First, eliminate tasks that are unnecessary. Some tasks end up on your list because you feel that you should complete them. They are not necessarily tasks that you want to complete. Ask yourself whether these really need to be on your list. What would happen if you never did the task? If the consequences are not great, eliminate the task from your list.
Schedule tasks into your day. Schedule time in your calendar to knock out some of the smaller tasks on your list. Try working on larger projects for one hour at a time. After the hour is up, put the project away and start on the next one. Making a little progress daily can go a long way to relieving some of the anxiety that may be felt when tackling a large project.
Set one big goal for the day. For example, I must finish this article on procrastination on Monday. Focus on achieving that goal and getting that project done. The next day focus on another.
Putting things off rarely makes them easier to tackle. Usually, the task becomes harder and more overwhelming the longer you wait. Most people struggle with procrastination. It is one self-defeating behavior that is hard to kick. Once you begin to develop the habit of doing things now, the joy of accomplishment will overshadow the convenience of waiting until tomorrow.