Do you put things off? Do you hate that about yourself? Yes, me too. Why do I procrastinate is something you find yourself wondering far too often.
But do you actually know what procrastination is and why we do it? I really didn’t until I started doing some research. I am like a dog with a bone once I start a project or task. But getting started? Well, that’s a completely different matter. So let’s take a look at why we procrastinate.
Firstly, What is Procrastination?
Warning – dictionary definition coming up. According to good old Wiki
Procrastination is the avoidance of doing a task that needs to be accomplished by a certain deadline.– https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Procrastination –
Basically, it is putting off doing something, even though we know that it will probably be worse than doing the thing in the first place.
The good news is that you aren’t condemned to spend the rest of your life procrastinating. And it is not too difficult to fix. Obviously the first problem you will have is getting around to fixing it!
If you are sick of wondering ‘why do I procrastinate?’, start doing something about it now. Decide what it is that makes you procrastinate.
Procrastination is Often Due to Fear
One of the main reasons that you may procrastinate is through fear. You probably think that this is unlikely, but read on.
It’s natural to procrastinate when you’re afraid. You may be afraid you’ll fail or perform worse than expected. Afraid because you don’t have the knowledge to perform, being uncomfortable or afraid to begin the success process.
There’s no doubt that fear of success causes you to procrastinate because you don’t feel you’re good enough and you’ve already put yourself in the failure category. But when you identify those fears and know them for what they are, you can overcome them with knowledge and common sense.
This one is especially common if you are a perfectionist. Like me. And in some ways is the hardest one to cure as it is a complete change of mindset. However, you will find the tips at the end of the article will be helpful.
Do You Procrastination Due to Lack of Motivation?
This one is a biggie. Lack of motivation for the task at hand can contribute to procrastination. What you have to do may take much of your time. You may have to give up some of the things you enjoy- such as free Saturdays to shop or hang out with friends.
You’re not alone if you suffer from lack of motivation. Everyone feels it from time to time. But if the lack of motivation is keeping you from the success you always envisioned and you procrastinate rather than beginning a task, it’s time to address what you really want to do and find out why you have no motivation for it.
You Procrastinate Because You Are Overwhelmed and Too Busy
It is easy to say that you are busy. We all do it. We are probably all busy most of the time. However, there are times in your life when you are truly busy. You may have a big project on at work. Or you may be going on holiday with all the million and one things you need to do before you go. Or there is Christmas!
This problem ties in with the motivation too, as you decide that you are too busy to do the difficult tasks. You choose the easy and pleasant ones. Like buying new outfits to go on holiday. But you don’t have the time or inclination to write out a packing list. Even though you know it will save you time in the future.
What is Making You Procrastinate?
Now that you know some of the more common reasons why people procrastinate, you need to identify your reason. Why do YOU procrastinate? Everyone is different so you need to identify your personal triggers.
- When you think about the tasks, are you unenthusiastic and bored?
- Are you anxious or nervous when you think about the tasks?
- Are you worried about what people will think about the end result?
- Do you truly believe that you don’t have time to do the tasks?
Now that you know if any, or all, of these reasons are applicable work out how you can overcome them. The 3 tips below should help you.
Knowledge & Training
If you are anxious and nervous, you need to see those fears for what they are. Then you can eradicate them with information. You can also begin to take actions that will boost your self-confidence and help you meet goal after goal after goal.
If you feel you don’t have enough information or feel you don’t have the skills to succeed, you may procrastinate because you don’t want to fail.
Knowledge will get you over that hurdle. Some training in the skills you want to develop will add so much to your self-confidence level and alleviate the need to procrastinate. Fight fire with fire by learning how to perform tasks well and you won’t be tempted to delay actions.
Check your attitude about doing what it takes to be successful. If you’re not giving yourself positive vibes, you’re likely going to procrastinate because you’re just not into what it’s going to take.
Let’s say you want to start a blog. You keep putting it off because it is all new and unknown. You may have spent ages setting up your blog. And you know you need to write blog posts. But you can’t seem to get around to it. That is because it is more difficult than you thought it would be. And you don’t have in depth knowledge.
Once you have done some training and increased your knowledge, you will be more comfortable in writing blog posts. As you do more posts you will become more confident. Then you will be happier to do more and more. That is just how it works.
Visual motivation works really well if it is a tangible project. Let’s say you really want to declutter the kitchen but you just can’t motivate yourself to start. Find a picture of a lovely, gleaming, empty kitchen. It doesn’t have to look like yours. But the happy feeling you get from habitually looking at the kitchen will inspire you to clear your kitchen too.
Approach it Differently
If you have a task that you keep putting off, try to approach it from a different angle. This is especially helpful if it is something you have to do regularly. With our kitchen example, if you still can’t motivate yourself then don’t think about the one big task. Instead of doing it in one big bit approach it differently. Do it in really small chunks. Every time you go into the kitchen, deal with just 1 item. Put it way. Throw it away. Move it to a part of the kitchen where you will actually use it. If you do it the sensible way, pick the things you know you will throw away first. Then you can start clearing some space. Just do one thing at a time.
Break it down into smaller chunks. Rather than decide to write a book in 3 months break it down. One week to decide on the content. Then one week for chapter one. And so on. If you have a big goal in three months time then you are likely to fail. You can tick off smaller, regular goals and you are more likely to start them. Could you sit down and write a book? Probably not. Could you sit down and write a chapter on ‘training puppies’, or whatever it is likely to be? Yes, you could.
A timeline is something that really works for me. But don’t overestimate the time you will need and set it too short. Don’t decide to push yourself and declutter your kitchen before your holiday next month. Instead give yourself plenty of time. Decide to do it before Christmas in five months for example. But don’t put it off for four months and then still have one month to complete it. Do it little by little. You will get to a stage where it seems achievable and you will start to work in bigger chunks.
Make it Easy on Yourself
There are things you can do to make it more likely that you will start and accomplish tasks. First choose your best time of day. If you had a task that would take a whole day, work to your strengths. Are you a morning person or do you work better in the afternoon. I work better in the morning so I would do the harder parts first. Then in the afternoon I could do the easy parts.
Have a reward system. Once you are halfway through, treat yourself to a cup of tea and a biscuit. Or whatever works for you.
If you have multiple tasks then prioritise. Do the most important ones first so if you lose motivation at least you have completed any that are vital.
Reevaluate your goals for success and the steps needed to get there. Maybe you need to tweak the goals or take a completely new path.
Set small and large personal goals. You really need to have smaller goals that build up into a larger goal. I have daily, weekly and monthly goals and this works great for me.
How I Am Solving My Procrastination Habit
I am much better now and don’t procrastinate nearly as much as I used to. I won’t say I am fully cured yet, or even if I ever will be. I think I have a tendency to put things off but I am now working on it.
I used to scoff at people who extol the virtues of writing things down. Although I used to be a compulsive list maker, changing jobs about 5 years ago lead me to not really need lists like I had in previous jobs. So I stopped doing them at work and then at home. It didn’t really click how that was affecting my productivity.
Writing down goals and lists again started to put me on the right track. This is why I have quite a few posts on starting a journal. Because it really helped me to become more productive and to reduce my procrastination.
Over to You
Procrastination is the enemy of all hopes and dreams. It’s based on fear and usually unfounded. Taking action is the enemy of procrastination. When you’re moving toward your goals it’s difficult for procrastination to take hold and keep you back.
You get a payoff for the procrastination because it acts as protection against failure. Remember, you don’t have to be perfect to be successful. Although procrastination may prevent you from actual failure, not trying at all will leave you unfulfilled. And not succeeding either.
You’ll never know if you were good enough to learn something or complete a task because you never tried. That procrastination can haunt you forever and lead you to believe you’re not worthy of success.
So stop procrastinating now. Write yourself a plan and start sticking to it. Having things written down is a huge step towards accomplishing them. It certainly worked for me.