The more we “procrastinate”, the greater the risk of worrying about our work piling up and the more our self esteem suffers.
It’s normal to put some things off. “I’ll have to get that done, get this fixed, clean up the shed…” However, what for many may seem like a small flaw without much consequence, can be a real problem for others.
Procrastination is the pathological tendency to constantly put off doing certain things (things that don’t give us immediate gratification) until tomorrow – or the next day. The consequences can be very severe and may result in financial, relationship, or psychological problems.
The consequences of procrastination:
▪ Economic: Our bills get paid later which leads to added interest charges; we start seeding two weeks after everybody else which can cause lower yields.
▪ Relationships: We are always late for appointments, which results in conflicts.
▪ Psychological: We worry about things piling up and our self-esteem suffers.
The main causes of procrastination:
▪ A lack of planning and vision: Procrastinators tend to see the end without what it takes to get there; they only think about the goal to be reached and don’t consider the steps along the way. The goal appears to be impossible to attain, so they keep delaying the required action.
▪ Perfectionism: They want every part of the work to be perfect. “If I can’t do it perfectly right away, then I might as well do it later.” The fear of failure is always present. The fear of being judged, seen negatively, or having limits set on their aptitudes paralyses them.
▪ A rebellious spirit: “You’re not going to make me do anything how or when you want it done; I’ll do it my way and only when I feel like it.”
▪ A quest for adrenaline: Procrastinators will say they work better under pressure, and that it adds spice to their lives.
▪ Immediate gratification: People often procrastinate because they simply don’t like doing a particular task. They then become the ‘spoiled child’ and appear to have won in the situation
Dealing with procrastination:
▪ Analyze the costs compared to the benefits: Contemplate the positive aspects of accomplishing a task against what it will cost you to “draw it out”.
▪ Establish a plan: Determine the goals you want to reach. Break each of them up into smaller steps. Calculate the time it will take to reach each of the goals you have set. Schedule a time to start and finish each step.
▪ Allow for obstacles: Make a list of the problems that may arise in completing the tasks and determine strategies you can use to counter them.
▪ Don’t wait until you feel like doing it: It is rare that we get excited about doing something boring. Make a commitment to yourself to get it done. Don’t let your “inner child” win. Motivation comes with action and not the reverse.
▪ Reward yourself: Give yourself some kind of a reward when you complete the task, and don’t delay this reward.
Remember that procrastination is a pathological tendency to constantly put off doing certain things until tomorrow – or the next day.
Work Psychologist, professionnal speaker, author and business coach