We all put off doing something from time to time. This behavior is not a problem until it becomes the norm and leads to serious consequences.
Procrastination has been known since ancient times and its “adepts” at one time were such prominent personalities as Pablo Picasso, Winston Churchill, Charles Darwin and Albert Einstein. The term itself appeared in 1977, when a scientific article by two American researchers, Albert Ellis and William Knaus, “Overcoming procrastination” was published (Overcoming procrastination).
What is procrastination?
Procrastination is the unhealthy habit of putting things and tasks off. One’s activity is directed towards small, unproductive, or even pointless activities. Psychologists call procrastination and wasting time a disease of modern times. The author of a publication with such a title (Procrastination: a Malady of Modern Time) is an English psychologist Noah Milgram, who distinguished 4 types of procrastination:
- Daily Procrastination – a person puts off housework that needs to be done constantly and is unable to follow a set daily schedule;
- Academic Procrastination – a person delays doing homework, postpones preparing for exams, etc;
- Decision-making procrastination – a person delays making all decisions, even the smallest ones;
- Compulsive Procrastination – combines procrastination in decision making and daily procrastination.
As you can see, putting things off is a very devious enemy that can be waiting at every turn. It can be defeated, but the first thing you will need to do is to identify the reasons why a person procrastinates on tasks or decisions. Pinpointing them properly can make overcoming procrastination much easier.
Causes of Procrastination
Unless procrastination has reached a chronic and chronic form, its causes often lie in trivial things such as:
- inability to make decisions;
- fear of important events, changes (including positive ones);
- lack of internal motivation;
- lack of planning skills;
- lack of understanding of negative consequences;
Sometimes a person does not know how to prioritize or does not define his goals: it makes no difference to him what he should do first. Some people procrastinate because of uncertainty, because they do not know how to approach a task and are afraid they will fail. This can be either fear of failure or fear of success – a common phobia that blocks potential achievement.
Perfectionism can also be a cause of procrastination – a person works out the smallest details to perfection and is ready to miss a project deadline because they are not satisfied enough with the results.
How to fight procrastination?
To overcome procrastination, strong willpower is key. We must resist the temptation to postpone tasks. Once we understand that this behavior leads to stress, feelings of shame and lowered self-esteem, we realize how harmful it is for us.
Identify the causes
Procrastination sometimes defeats even the most productive people. The first thing they do to deal with it is to determine its causes. It could be one of the factors already mentioned or something else entirely, such as disorganization, laziness, a bad mood, overwhelming responsibility, or even banal hunger or thirst.
Take the first step
Even if you’re doing something you love, the beginning can be very difficult. If you don’t quite know where to start or see any difficulties, you might just sit back and do nothing. However, it is important not to think about action, but to start acting. This makes the difference between a productive person and an unproductive one. Once you start, you will cross the threshold of procrastination, which will give you the energy to continue working.
Divide the work into parts
In many cases, people start procrastinating when they see a huge amount of work in front of them. If this scares you, know that you can divide the work into smaller parts. Find small segments in a large project that don’t require a serious investment of time and effort, and start working gradually. Huge projects will immediately stop scaring you if you approach them this way.
Create an environment suitable for work
A big hindrance in the way of productive work can be an environment that is not suitable for it. Distractions of all kinds can easily distract you from getting the job done. These include various gadgets, game consoles, television, loud music, and friends or relatives hanging around.
Try to create a work environment where no one and nothing will distract you. Remove from sight anything that might distract you, and ask family members or co-workers not to distract you.
Celebrate small successes
You don’t have to chase the end result as you may wait for it for a very long time and end up losing all your enthusiasm. It is better to celebrate small successes and achievements to keep you motivated and eager. By celebrating your small victories, you will contribute to the formation of new androgen receptors in the areas of the brain responsible for motivation.
Set realistic goals
If you set the bar too high for yourself, you will quickly lose your enthusiasm and desire to work. In order for you to stay on a positive wavelength and not lose focus, your goals and objectives must be doable and achievable.
Focus on finishing the job
When you have a difficult task in front of you, start reasoning logically. Don’t focus on the fact that you don’t want to start the work, as you will quickly fall into the procrastination trap and allow yourself to be convinced that the task can wait a day or two. Don’t give in to that insidious voice in your head.
Instead, start thinking about how good you will feel when you finish the work you started, how proud of yourself you will be, what a pleasant feeling of satisfaction it will be.
Don’t blame or criticize yourself
It happened. You gave in to temptation and put off tasks. Tough luck. Self-flagellation and guilt trips are pointless and certainly won’t help you solve the problem. Take a breath, accept the fact that you made a mistake and get to work. Remember that we are all only human and no one is perfect. The key to success is to keep working on yourself and not giving up.
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