From time-to-time, we all procrastinate. It’s perfectly normal to put off a task occasionally when you are not looking forward to beginning a project. However, 20 percent of people are chronic procrastinators. If you wait until the last moment to start almost any project or are chronically late to appointments, chances are you procrastinate.
Procrastination can become a problem in your life when you are frequently running late or you are under unnecessary stress due to your tendency to wait until the last minute. You may be surprised to find out that procrastination is more than a habit. Its underlying cause is often psychological. Once you identify the cause of your procrastinating behaviors, it is much easier to address the problem from its source.
Why Do I Procrastinate?
You may find yourself asking yourself, “Why do I procrastinate so much?” To answer this question, you need to examine how you feel about a specific task before you are able to answer that question. As mentioned before, a task may be unpleasant or difficult for you to complete. If that is the case, you may find that you distract yourself with other more pleasant tasks instead of getting on with the project looming ahead.
Find What Is Holding You Back
Once you examine the emotions behind the procrastination, it is much easier to identify and resolve the underlying issues causing the apprehension of completing a task. You know you don’t want to complete the task, but identifying the reason behind why the task is so difficult to get started on is the first step to ending procrastination.
Ask yourself these questions:
- Do you feel anxiety at the thought of starting a task?
- Do you feel bored or lack the drive to begin the task in the first place?
- How do you feel when you consider what people may think once the task is completed?
Once you examine these questions, you will gain a better understand of what you need to do in order to move past your procrastination.
Lack of Drive to Complete Tasks
If you find that you are bored with a task, try taking a different approach or shaking things up a bit by tackling the project from a different angle. If you still are struggling to feel motivated to complete a boring task or just lack drive to get started, it may be helpful to look for motivation in order to get you started.
Some people also benefit from setting personal goals to keep on task. The goals can be small and short term, such as once you finish this project, you will have the rest of your day free. Goals can also be much larger and in the distant future. Goals are an effective motivator to help people end procrastination.
Find Your Motivation
Motivation is the key to completing a task you are not looking forward to. If you give yourself a good reason for completing a task, you will do so more quickly and perform higher quality work because you’re not under pressure from a deadline. So, what is your motivation to get a task done in the first place?
If your motivation is something negative, like preventing your boss from getting on your case, then you need to find something positive to motivate yourself. Why do you have a job in the first place? Is it to support your family? Are you saving for your dream home or a new sports car? If so, pin up a picture of your motivation in your cubicle or frame one on your desk as a reminder of what you are working for.
A visual motivator is a great thing to see when you are working to keep yourself focused and determined. It’s more than a thought when you see the things you are working so hard toward; it reminds you that once you finish the task, you are one step closer to that goal.
Set Personal Goals
People need to be working toward a goal in order to be productive. If we don’t see a value in completing a task, we just won’t work hard to get it done. Do you go to the gym without a goal in mind? No. You go to the gym because you want something. You want to lose weight, tone up, live longer, or run a marathon. Your goal is your own, so keep it in the forefront of your mind at all times.
Start small. Set a goal on a deadline to have the task completed or have some other productivity target you wish to strive for. If that goal isn’t strong enough, get a little more ambitious. Do you want a promotion? Completing a task quickly will get you one step closer to that goal. If you need more inspiration, check out this article on “7 Tips to Achieve Your Goals”
If you ask yourself, “Why do I procrastinate everything?” or “Why do I procrastinate things I want to do?” you may be in the 20 percent of those who are chronic procrastinators. Chronic procrastination causes unnecessary emotional stress and can cause problems with your personal life and career if left unchecked.
Chronic tardiness is just one example of how procrastination can impact your life. If you fall into the category of chronic procrastinators, there may be a more complicated psychological reason behind your procrastination.
If you feel anxiety, stress, or nervousness when you think of starting a task, you may have underlying psychological reasons causing that anxiety. Anxiety can cause a person to go to great lengths to avoid an unpleasant experience.
These questions will help you examine the underlying cause of your anxiety:
- What causes you anxiety about a project?
- Is it what happens at the beginning or end of the task?
- What is the underlying fear causing the anxiety?
Understanding and addressing your fear can help you to overcome the anxiety causing your procrastination.
Fear of Failure
If you find yourself worrying that you may not live up to expectations, it can make it much more difficult to start a task. If you are thinking it is better to not try than to fail, you have a fear of failure. A way to deal with it is to realize at some point, we all fail and that is perfectly fine.
In the article, “Why Success Always Starts with Failure“, the author points out that we all fail, but we learn and grow from our mistakes. Failure teaches us the value of perseverance and determination. The trick is to accept failure is inevitable and learn from it.
Fear of Success
The fear of success seems like a strange fear, but it is a valid one. If others have high expectations of you that you find difficult to achieve, setting the bar even higher can be very intimidating. This leads to the same anxiety and procrastination that comes from the fear of failure.
It is important to realize that you do not have to perform perfectly every time and that’s okay. Let other people’s thoughts and opinions go. Your approval is the only one you need to be happy.
Procrastination doesn’t have to be a stumbling block. Once you identify the underlying cause of your procrastination, it is much more manageable than looking at the big picture. It takes a small shift in your way of thinking in order to get your head in the game and back on the track to success.