Procrastination is the delaying of an action causing a gap between when you intend to do something and when you actually do it.
We’ve all been there, said we’d do something, looked at it and not necessarily said NO, but have turned around and started doing something else or put it off. It’s normal, everyone puts things off from time to time, but procrastinators typically avoid difficult tasks.
Why is that?
Some causes are somewhat obvious, for example:
- The inability to prioritise
Some other causes can be a little more complex, for example:
- Fear of failure
- Low self-esteem
- Lack of assertiveness
Procrastination can prevent you from doing a lot of things, whether that be in relationships, in your career or more.
Fear of failure
Procrastinating due to fear of failure is self-defeating and is also linked to low self-esteem. You’re avoiding the task before you’ve even started because you’re protecting yourself from the possible event you might fail.
How do you know you’ll fail if you don’t try?
This isn’t what we tell ourselves at the time though. Procrastinators are great at talking themselves out of things in various ways.
“I haven’t got enough time”
“It isn’t the right time”
“I don’t need to do this today”
Eventually, these tasks usually need to be done and by procrastinating you’re adding more pressure on yourself, more stress and more anxiety.
Lack of assertiveness
It’s easily done if you’re a people pleaser. (See our Am I a people pleaser? Blog)
You say YES to too many people because you feel guilt when saying NO. This clogs up your time because you’re prioritising other people’s needs before your own, leaving your own tasks to be the victim of your own procrastination.
“I haven’t got enough time”
“I have to do this first”
Linking back to the inability to prioritise. We’re not saying, always put yourself first, but there is room for improvement in considering your own task to be done, which can be just as important as someone else’s.
‘Procrastination is one of the most common and deadliest of diseases and it’s toll on success and happiness is heavy’Wayne Gretzky
How can I stop procrastinating?
If the task is too big, break it down – If a task will be more manageable for you in smaller pieces, break it down. Doing it all now or not at all isn’t helping you.
Write down your reasons for delaying the task – You can come back to this and reconsider your reasons. Are they valid?
Promise yourself a reward and commit to the task – giving yourself an incentive is a great way of committing to a task. We’d also recommend setting a date or time to have this done and writing it down. Statistically, you’re 42% more likely to do something if you’ve written it down because it helps you focus on important things.
Ask someone to ask you if you’ve done it – the classic check-up takes us back to childhood when you said you’d tidy your room, but you needed to be ‘reminded’. Try it, it works!
Accountability – Holding yourself accountable can have a massive impact on your productivity because you’re adding a little bit more pressure onto yourself to complete the task.
Procrastination can lead to unfulfillment, missed opportunities and in extreme cases, frustration for yourself and those around you.
Having said all that, procrastination isn’t always bad. If we didn’t sometimes procrastinate, we might make hasty decisions and end up doing something we didn’t need or didn’t want to. It can be a time to reflect if you use it wisely.
Here’s our favourite book on the topic: