“Don’t put off until tomorrow what you can do today.” – Benjamin Franklin
An act of unnecessarily postponing things , decisions or actions is called procrastination. People often confuse this with laziness but both are very different in their own ways.
Procrastinating is active meaning you chose to do something else instead of the actual task that you are supposed to be doing. Laziness on the other hand is being inactive and not deciding to do anything at all.
Procrastination is usually ignoring an important task in favour to something else that is much more easier to complete. Minor instances of procrastination can make us pay a heavy price. So it is always better not to give in to it, even if it is a smaller instance.
Primary issues cropping up would be demotivated behavior leading to low performance. But if it continues in the longer run it might lead to depression due to accumulated stress and degrade physical and mental health.
Most often misinterpreted as a matter of willpower, people fail to recognize that procrastination is something much more complex. Self-control is most important to give us the push to complete a task. We often get demotivated when factors like anxiety,negativity, failure interfere with self-control and take us in the opposite direction away from motivation.
Exhaustion and delay in receiving the reward for completion of task may make you disregard the value of the reward which interferes with the self-control and motivation. We must keep in mind that both self-control and motivation work hand-in-hand for us to complete a task or do an action. Anything in interference to these two will definitely have a negative impact.
Why do we procrastinate?
Unclear or abstract goals
When you have a concrete goal that is clearly defined you are more likely to show greater interest in completing the steps to achieve it. Contrary to this if your goal that is set is abstract or vague you are more likely to procrastinate.
When tasks come with the late reward package you are likely to deem it unimportant because the reward is getting to you a little late. Delay discounting where people tend to discount the value of rewards that they would be receiving later crops up. So people become biased to tasks which offer them a reward earlier and would be much interested to complete it first even if it is not critical.
Disconnect with future
A disconnect between the present and the future individual known as temporal discontinuity causes procrastination. People become carefree that the present is the only time to be concentrated and the future can be handled when it comes with the flow.
For someone who is advised a healthy diet by the physician failing to do so because, it is only the future individual who will be the sufferer. They fail to realize it is the individual’s present eating lifestyle that would cause the problems in future.
People procrastinate because they are optimistic about the completion of tasks in future given the fact that they are confident of the availability of time and their ability to complete. Most often they fail when it comes to calculate the inadequate time at their disposal to complete the task and console themselves by saying the next time it would be different if in case it is a repetitive task.
Inability to make decisions
People procrastinate in situations when they are unable to decide the next course of action. Given the fact that the options in front of them would be too many to choose from, too important to choose and too similar to choose. In such cases the individual is said to have indecisiveness to proceed.
Anxiety and being overwhelmed
Sometimes when people feel anxious and highly overwhelmed they tend to procrastinate. Overwhelming could be due to situations where there is a single huge task or a couple of simple tasks. Anxiety on the other hand will have the capability even to put this into a loop- Anxiety and procrastinating due to anxiety.
Fear of failure, evaluation and negative feedback.
Exaggerated and unjustified would be right to name the fears in most cases when people procrastinate. The fear of being evaluated and given a feedback from the public make people worry and end up in procrastination.
Fear of failure is another important factor that plays a major role and could also be considered a subset of the evaluation and feedback fear. This would make them continue to work and not come to completion because of the fear.
How to overcome procrastination?
Agree or identify that you are procrastinating
The first step is to Identify that you’re into procrastination. Most people fail to recognize that they are procrastinating and think what’s stopping them.
How do you identify?
- Waiting for the right time to work on it or make decisions.Read the instructions again and again but not taking any action or devising a strategy to work.
- Low priority tasks are filled for the entire day in your planner.
- Putting off a task in to-do for a long time though you know its important.
- Try to fix why you are procrastinating.
Most times it is because of the task that is presented if it is vague or too simple or is overwhelming to be completed. Not having a proper strategy or the fear of success and failure could make you procrastinate. So identify the why and try to fix it.
Stopping the habit of procrastinating by adopting anti-procrastinating strategies.
If its an old habit it takes time to die hard. So understand that you cannot overcome this overnight. It takes time to forget the habit. Think how you could adopt strategies that will help you not procrastinate.
Strategies that help overcome procrastination
- Forget the past.
- Be capable of taking decisions immediately rather than postponing.
- Peer pressure works so have someone check on you.
- Commitment to the task
- Lessen or minimize the distraction
- Act on the go.
Take more control on the task. Think of it in a way that you choose to complete rather than you need to or you have to.
Procrastination is not a disease. It is not late to start correcting it, even if you are a senior citizen. Everybody gets a chance make mistakes, learn and bounce back. Make sure you do not procrastinate to getting started on the way to stop procrastinating.
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