Do you miss deadlines at work because you put off tasks until the last minute? Are your friends sick of you never returning their calls? Do you feel constantly stressed because you are worrying about getting something done, but somehow you can’t bring yourself to start? You are likely to be a chronic procrastinator.People don’t procrastinate so much out of laziness but rather find themselves feeling anxiously frozen and at the same time guilty about what they are not doing. In addition to failing at productivity, procrastinators tend to have more health problems due to the stress. They suffer with insomnia, colds, stomache aches and tend to drink and smoke more.
One major reason for procrastinating is fear of failing. The procrastinator would rather have others think they didn’t try than that they couldn’t do it. Having overly high expectations of what they should be able to do combined with feelings that they need to please others to be accepted makes the procrastinator feel they will never be able to do the task at hand well enough. So, instead, they don’t do it at all.
Procrastinating may also be a symptom of indecisiveness. If your parents tended to criticize all your decisions, you may have become unable to decide and act due to fears of criticism and rejection. Also, there is the rare thrill-seeking person who gets a thrill out of the rush of doing things at the last minute. But most procrastinators are using the fantasy that they “work better under pressure” or that the task “really isn’t important.” They fool themselves into believing that the procrastination is fine…until it isn’t.
There are things you can do yourself or to help the procrastinator in your life:
- Prioritize tasks. When everything seems like it’s high priority, you feel overwhelmed. You feel afraid that you will never be able to do all the things you have to and do then in time and this fear causes you to procrastinate. Also, if everything is of equal priority then nothing seems to need to get done, or at least get done first. So make a list of the things you need to get done and set a priority for what needs to get done first. Then start at the top of the list and begin work your way through it.
- Question your beliefs. Do you tell yourself you really work better under pressure? Prove it. Do one task at the last minute and one ahead. Which worked better for you overall? Chances are you will find out procrastinating isn’t worth it. Other lies we tell ourselves are that we don’t have the ability to do something. Usually we do, or we can find help to make it happen. We also tell ourselves that it all has to be done perfectly. If we set the standards so high, of course it is going to be intimidating to start. And by trying to achieve perfection, it is easy to feel like the job is never fully done. In most cases, it’s better to get something done than nothing at all.
- Be a positive parent: Don’t create your own procrastinators by being chronically critical of your kids’ decision-making. Let them try, encourage independence and emphasize that trying is more important than getting it right.
- Check your impulsivity. Work on your self-control. Most procrastinators jump from one task to the next and therefore never get any one done. When you are about to dash off to the next thing, leaving the last undone, stop and make yourself complete it.
- Old habits die hard. If this has been your life pattern, it’s hard to change. Don’t give up too easily. If you change just one task a week, that is progress. The more you show yourself that you don’t have to procrastinate, the easier it is to change your ways.
Are you a procrastinator? What tricks do you have to help you? Share your comments.