Updated: Jul 26
Procrastination has become a problem for many of us. There always seems to be something else that needs doing before we do the thing that actually needs doing. Then later, when we haven’t achieved all we wanted to, we use this to beat ourselves up and feel bad. When we feel bad about procrastinating, we are actually procrastinating about our procrastination!
Procrastination is an active process – you choose to do something else instead of the task that you know you should be doing, (like a browse on social media). In contrast, laziness suggests apathy, inactivity and an unwillingness to act.
Let’s look at some of the thoughts we have when we put off tasks:
“I’ll do it when I feel ready”
“It’s too difficult, I’ll do it later”
“I’m really not in the mood to do this right now”
“I really don’t think I can do this well”
“It’s going to take ages, I’d rather do something that I can complete quickly”
Have a think about which one of these is relevant for you……
Procrastination is a habit – a deeply ingrained pattern of behaviour. This means that you probably won’t break it overnight. Habits only stop being habits when you avoid practicing them, so try as many of the strategies, below, as possible to give yourself the best possible chance of succeeding.
Promise yourself a reward. If you complete a difficult task on time, reward yourself with a treat. Make sure you notice how good it feels to finish things!
Ask someone to check up on you. Peer pressure works! This is the principle behind self-help groups.
Act as you go. Tackle tasks as soon as they arise, rather than letting them build up over another day.
Rephrase your internal critic. The word "should" for example, implies that you have no choice in what you do. This can make you feel disempowered and might even result in self-sabotage. However, saying, "I could" implies that you own a project, and can make you feel more in control of your workload.
Minimize distractions. Turn off your email and social media, avoid sitting anywhere near a television while you work!
Aim to start first thing. Get those tasks that you find least pleasant out of the way early. This will give you the rest of the day to concentrate on work that you find more enjoyable.