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Why Do We Procrastinate and How Can We Overcome Procrastination?

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Brian is always seeking for ways to improve on productivity and optimize his performance on a daily basis to live his life to the fullest!

Procrastination is not doing what is necessary by delaying or postponing the act

Procrastination is not doing what is necessary by delaying or postponing the act

I'll Get It Done Tomorrow?

Have you ever faced a situation whereby you have a list of things that you need to get done and deadlines to meet, but you can’t seem to bring yourself to start working on it? You get into this delusional monologue trying to convince yourself that it is not a big deal, that you will sort it out in a bit. This is where procrastination comes into the picture, in which, there exists a gap between intention and action.

Procrastination is one of the challenges in life that many people encounter on a daily basis. The act of procrastinating comes with a negative repercussion, and more often than not, it is usually counterproductive. It does not make sense to delay or procrastinate as it does not yield favorable outcomes, yet we succumb to its' temptation.

Procrastination is the thief of time

Procrastination is the thief of time

What Leads Us to Procrastinate?

Procrastinating does not imply the act of being unproductive; it just simply means deciding to perform simple, pleasurable tasks in place of the more important and urgent ones with deadlines. Studies have shown that over 20% of the adult population put off or try to avoid doing specific tasks by allowing themselves to be-overtaken by distractions. No matter how disciplined we are, sometimes the trap of the ‘spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak' gets the best of us. In the end, we find ourselves frittering away hours on trivial pursuits and engaging in activities that sidetrack us from the things that matter. It could be spending more hours than necessary on online shopping even when you know that you got to attend to your laundry and dirty dishes.

One of the underlying factors behind procrastination is negative emotions and human behavior, which is mostly driven by emotions. We are more inclined to things that make us feel good and avoid those that make us feel bad. This reflects in our actions, whereby we choose to perform simple tasks but put up resistance towards chores that matter because it inflicts unpleasurable feelings. A good example of this behavior is expressed in the prevalence of relying on slimming products instead of having to go through the recommended exercise regime, as the latter is much more laborious.

The guide to no more procrastination and living your best live

The guide to no more procrastination and living your best live

Procrastination Can Affect Your Personal & Professional Life

According to researcher and speaker, Dr. Piers Steel, he explains that 95% of people procrastinate to a certain degree and on occasions, it can lead to destructive and dangerous consequences. By putting off tasks until a later time, a procrastinator can never get any task accomplished on time. This may result in serious career struggles, persistent financial problems, and ultimately a diminished quality of life. In his book, 'The Procrastination Equation', Dr. Steel offers his tried and tested method to help a procrastinator to identify, understand, and break free of self-destructive habits to create a more positive life.

The occasional act of procrastination is not a matter to be alarmed about. However, if it persists and is affecting one’s ability to function properly in the long run, then it may be a signal of something more severe. It could be the precursor to chronic procrastination, leading to psychological disability and dysfunction in many dimensions of life. In clinical psychology, there is an apparent connection between anxiety, a low sense of worth, and a self-defeating mentality that is associated with the tendency to procrastinate.

Nip the Problem in the Bud

Once there is a realization that procrastination is a constant pattern in our life, the acknowledgment must be followed with action. It is best to nip the problem in the bud before it escalates and gets out of hand. This requires a procrastinator to reconstruct their behavior complex upon the foundation of a new core habit of taking action. Unfortunately, since it seems like a tedious task, there will be a tendency for a procrastinator to delay implementing the behavioral change. External aid and support do come in handy and individual accountability is also crucial.

There are certain measures that can be taken to eliminate procrastination. It requires some effort and willpower to be able to overcome this hurdle of procrastinating. Here is a list that serves as a guideline to improve your ability to manage this debilitating behavior.

1. Get Organized and Prioritize

Stop Procrastination

Stop Procrastination

One of the pre-requisite of getting started is to get organized. It allows you a clear mind on what needs to be done. Having a sense of structure will give you a good head start. Devote a planner or a calendar app to list out the tasks that need to be accomplished, according to priority. The ideal way to organize is to prioritize the important and urgent tasks first; get the hard stuff out of the way before tackling the easy ones. By outlining your priorities clearly, it will be easier for you to keep track of your progress as well. Repeat to yourself the affirmation that you need to adhere to the list and direct your energy towards completing the assignments and tasks listed. It is good to constantly remind yourself that action eliminates anxiety.

Set your goal and decide a deadline

Set your goal and decide a deadline

2. Decide on Attainable Goals and Set a Deadline

Sometimes we put too much pressure on ourselves to get a task done. When it gets too overwhelming, we resort to procrastinate. One easy solution to this dilemma is to establish reasonable and achievable goals instead of big goals with vague plans. Once you have organized your priorities and identify your goals, deadlines must be set to ensure follow-through on the respective tasks.

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We do not want to fall into the trap of having a 'to-do list' yet get stuck on the cycle of never getting close to completing it because there is no sense of urgency. Setting a deadline entails having a specific date or time the tasks need to get done. Make it a practice to set deadlines for even little tasks and stick to it. Starting small and doing it repetitively will make it easier - practice makes perfect. Making it a habit to keep to deadlines will help to eliminate procrastination from taking over.

Remove distractions like your phone or the TV when you have work to get done

Remove distractions like your phone or the TV when you have work to get done

3. Remove Distractions

Now, it is time to get to work! You can increase the chances of completing the tasks on hand by staying focused. Remove any hints of distractions to avoid disruption on the tasks at hand. You might be an advocate of exercising discipline and willpower to resist distraction, but why go through the trouble? It is true that successful people are more disciplined and they get things done. However, in the case of a procrastinator, it actually helps to get distractions out of the way entirely until they master the ability to focus on a single task and see it through. This takes time and consistency to see results.

So, what does it mean by removing distractions? You can either put away the object or stay away from menial tasks to focus on the crucial ones first. Remove yourself from the environment that proved itself as a distraction or better yet, eliminate the cause of distraction. This is crucial to allow yourself the peace of mind to focus on accomplishing the particular task you were meant to do. This is also a good tip to practice especially for those wanting to start on a healthier diet; you avoid buying junk foods with the excuse of keeping them to consume at a later time. By doing so, it eliminates the reason for you to delay on starting the course to healthy eating because the temptations that are causing you to fail are no longer accessible.

A reward can be an enticing reason to get the job done

A reward can be an enticing reason to get the job done

4. Use the Reward System

Getting a task completed is indeed an accomplishment. It feels good to get a job done and out of the way. One method to reinforce the habit and encourage such behaviors would be to reward yourself for the accomplishment, regardless of how small it is.

Who doesn’t like getting a reward for a job well done? Establish a reward system that is fitting for the occasion, and you will discover how easy it is to dedicate yourself to focusing and completing what you set your mind to. The reward that comes at the end serves to encourage and motivate you to jump and act, based on the idea of an impending reward drives you to commit and see through a task much more effectively.

Have someone make you accountable to get things done

Have someone make you accountable to get things done

5. Tell Someone about Your Goals and Deadline

To get things done, you must hold yourself accountable to see through your list and adhere to the deadlines. However, there might be occasions when you get a little sidetracked. To reduce the chances of slacking, you may up the bar by telling someone else about your goals and deadlines. This could be your family members, close friends, or even mentors that want to see you do well.

The act of sharing your goals and plans means that you up the effort to make sure you see it through. This is based on the notion that you have declared publicly an act and it forces you to keep your end of the bargain. As a bonus, when you indeed do accomplish your goals and completed the tasks that you set out to do, you will have someone to celebrate your accomplishments, no matter how big or small they are.

This content reflects the personal opinions of the author. It is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and should not be substituted for impartial fact or advice in legal, political, or personal matters.

© 2019 Brian


Brian (author) from Kuala Lumpur Malaysia on May 27, 2019:

I am glad to hear that Liz.

Liz Westwood from UK on May 27, 2019:

This article has some great tips.

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