It took me so long to start writing this article…
Yes, it took me a while to get this article down on paper. It was meant to be my first blog of the new year and we are in February! Are you like me and sometimes find that you know that you need to complete a task but try to avoid it at all costs? I remember the times I have been studying for a professional qualification, that when it came to completing my assignments my house had never been so tidy. I suddenly took an eager interest in doing the housework and cleaning the windows and doing anything I could in order to avoid starting my assignment. The frustrating thing was that once I had made a start, I actually quite enjoyed completing it and could kick myself that I hadn’t started earlier.
So why do we procrastinate? There can be many reasons, here are just a few…
Fear of failure
Sometimes if it’s a challenging task, we have that nagging doubt that we will fail and so what’s the point if we are going to end up feeling like a failure? Also doing something that we may not get right, makes us vulnerable and we may worry that we will receive negative feedback and how will we cope with this, if we are already lacking in self-esteem? Those with high self-esteem, will adopt a ‘let’s have a go anyway’ attitude and see the task in hand as a challenge and if they fail, hey they will have been pleased they gave it a go and will have probably learnt something along the way.
Sometimes, the task may simply be boring and finding the motivation to do something we don’t find motivating or rewarding can be hard. This is when we become experts at avoidance tactics! We suddenly find doing the housework, cleaning the windows or filing away our paperwork very interesting! Sometimes this delay can then cause anxiety as the deadline draws nearer as we know that we need to complete the task and we then worry we will run out of time.
I’m busy, busy, busy darling!
Some people love to be busy (and letting everyone know about it!) Do you know someone who appears to be busy, busy, busy all the time and yet when you ask them why and what they are doing you think well you wouldn’t be so busy if you didn’t leave things to the last minute! Some people just like to be seen to be busy as their ‘busy-ness’ is something that they can share with others. It may also be that the individual lacks self-esteem and feels that they need to be seen to be busy in order to be of any value.
You’re a thrill seeker
There are also the thrill seekers – those that procrastinate to experience the last minute rush. These people tend to like living on the edge, having the pressure to have to think on their feet and make last minute decisions. They are more focussed and energised by having to meet tight deadlines and feel they work better and are more productive this way.
Ways to overcome procrastination
So how can we overcome this procrastination? Here are some tips:
1. If the task in hand seems too overwhelming, break it down into bitesize chunks and set yourself mini goals, each with their own deadline.
2. Make yourself accountable by getting a friend or colleague to regularly check-in with your progress.
3. Visualise the end goal. Try to think about how good it will feel once you have completed your goal. Don’t make the mistake of putting pressure on yourself to get it right, but just getting through it, is an achievement.
4. If the task is boring, find something to reward yourself once you have completed it.
5. If you have a fear of failure, remind yourself you’re not perfect. Remember that it’s OK to make mistakes and that it is a good way to learn. Not easy I know, particularly if your goal is work-based and you have your manager breathing down your neck to get things done!
6. Choose an App! There are lots of Apps available that claim that they help overcome procrastination. Give some of them a go!