Why Do We Procrastinate? Learn to Stop Procrastination
How many times have you avoided cleaning your closet reasoning with yourself about other important tasks that you may have to do or convincing yourself how cleaning is not 'significant' enough to be completed at this point in time? Congratulations, for you are procrastinating the task. And hey, welcome to the club. It must be good to hear that you are not the only one. Well, here's some more good news. There are millions of procrastinators in this world. Now it's time for the bad part. If not acted upon, then procrastination can very well affect your productivity, your efficiency and even your ability to function normally in your day to day life if it isn't doing it already.
Just for the record, I put off my visit to the dentist for weeks until the cavity in my tooth became deep enough to leak my brains out of it. It was then, that I decided to tackle the problem rather than brooding over it. What was stopping me from going to the dentist? I have been there several times before this (Yes, I have been gifted with bad dental health). I do not suffer from dentophobia. The answer surprised me to some extent but shocked me into action. It was 'me' who was stopping me from doing it. Sounds weird? That's procrastination for you and most people are guilty of it at some point or the other in their lives. So what exactly is procrastination? What does it mean?
According to the Free Dictionary, Procrastination is the habit of delaying a task needlessly out of carelessness or laziness. So, which of these two best describe you? Are you lazy or are you plain careless? But wait; there might be more to it than the technical definition. Experts suggest that procrastination may either be a psychological problem or a physiological one. There are myriad psychological factors like anxiety, ADHD or even perfectionism that may lead to procrastination.
The common symptoms
A procrastinator often spends up more energy in putting off a task than what he/she would have spent in completing it. The mind gives them constant reminders about the task and the person will try his/her best to put the thoughts away, often eating up one's own positive energy resource. Such thoughts can not only be an energy drainer but can also weigh down heavily on the confidence of a person. In simple terms, procrastination is nothing but self sabotage.
Types of procrastinators
Here's some more juicy insight. There are different types of procrastinators. The first category is relaxed procrastinators and the second is tense-afraid procrastinators. I think the names are pretty self explanatory. But here's a detailed description.
· A tense-afraid procrastinator will usually avoid a task because he/she is too tensed to handle the stress that the task may bring about. At times, he/she is confused about the importance of the task and is unable to prioritize the tasks in life. In most cases, this leads to further procrastination. For example, studying for an examination. He/she will be too worried about not being able to complete the studies and will in turn make frequent trips to the washroom, drink coffee and end up delaying the actual task further.
· The relaxed procrastinator on the other hand, avoids a task only because he/she doesn't care. They focus their energies on other more enjoyable tasks. A prime example in teens is when they procrastinate their studies but do not do the same with their social lives. It's just a matter of diverting the energy within the body to something more enjoyable.
So how do we avoid it?
Let me go straight to the point without getting into too many technical details.
- Admit the fact that you are procrastinating: Yes, the most important step is to accept this fact and then work towards avoiding it. In most cases, we know that we are procrastinating but we keep doing it nevertheless and the situation often gets out of hand.
- Create a list of 'to do' things: Write down a list of all the things that you have been procrastinating and create deadlines for each one of them. Deadlines have to be realistic (something that you can achieve).
- Prioritize the list: Not all the tasks that you have written down must be equally important. Prioritize that list now. List the most important tasks first and the less important ones later.
- Start working on them: Go slow and steady. But ensure that you complete each task and then cancel it out with a stroke on the paper. Keep it where you can see it frequently for it gives you immense satisfaction to see that you have completed the tasks which you have been delaying for so long.
- Reward yourself: Take time and indulge in something that you absolutely love. Consider this to be your reward for completing those tasks.
- Stick to the 'write and complete' schedule: Procrastination is like a stubborn weed. It will keep coming back at you. So get that writing pad and pen and write down whenever you feel that you are procrastinating a task.
This seems like a relatively simple solution to a seemingly complex problem. But you might just be surprised at the effectiveness of these techniques. With time and confidence, you should be able to eliminate it completely from your life.
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