The self-help leader and author of Think and Grow Rich, Napoleon Hill wrote, “Procrastination is the bad habit of putting off until the day after tomorrow what should have been done the day before yesterday.” Does this ring a bell for you? If so, have you wondered how to stop procrastinating?
Do you repeatedly find yourself in unhealthy friendships, intimate relationships, or work environments? You might be stuck and want to move forward but find yourself repeatedly procrastinating about small and big commitments. Getting informed is a first step.
First, let’s define what procrastination means:
The act of intentionally delaying or putting off something important, often in favor of less urgent tasks. It is a bad habit that can lead to feelings of guilt, inadequacy, and even depression.
Does this definition resonate with you. How about DePaul University researcher, Joseph R. Ferrari’s three basic types of procrastinators?
- Arousal procrastinators: They love the thrill of last-minute projects and work.
- Avoidance procrastinators: They have a habit of putting off challenging or boring tasks.
- Decisional procrastinators: They become frozen by fear and anxiety.
The last type of procrastinator describes a counselling client of mine. She stayed in a toxic work environment for fear of rejection and disappointing others to the point of putting up with bullying for more than six years!
But there are problems with even minor habits of procrastination.
Procrastination Contributes to:
- Self-doubt: delaying commitments and tasks can signal to yourself and to others that you don’t believe in yourself and your abilities.
- Time-crunching: You may end up scrambling to complete tasks and then doing them quickly
- and incompletely.
- Performance Risk: When rushed after procrastinating you won’t produce at with the quality you are capable of.
- Distress: When we procrastinate, we don’t meet deadlines. Then we can end up panicking, even having panic attacks, headaches, stomach aches, and insomnia.
- Strained Relationships: When others depend on you, procrastination can give the message that others don’t matter to you.
To stop procrastinating, it is important to create a plan for yourself, practice self–discipline, and get focused. Here are some beginning ideas.
Nine Ways to Stop Procrastinating:
- When fear or high anxiety is involved seek help to discover and collapse the effect of the possibility of living with trauma
- If you procrastinate because you tend to avoid difficult people or or being rejected, develop some positive self-talk. For example, say to yourself, “They are not rejecting me, but the idea or solution.”
- When feeling overwhelmed by the immensity of a task, whether it’s moving from home or writing a book, break the task into small steps. Chunk it!
- If you procrastinate because the task or activity is draining, reward yourself afterwards or do a chunk of the draining task and then switch to some tasks that energize you. If your job requires you to do activities that weaken and drain you, look for opportunities to delegate, switch jobs or volunteer to do tasks that utilize your strengths. When we engage in tasks that utilize our strengths we are in the zone and time flies.
- To tackle perfectionism, begin to observe and appreciate the value of taking risks and making mistakes. Develop a mantra for when mistakes happen such as, “Another mistake, another life lesson!”
- Learn the difference between excellence and perfection. Tell yourself, “It’s good enough” for tasks that don’t require total accuracy. Do some activities just for fun.
- Be clear about your priorities. We often mistakenly think we are procrastinating when we choose to put work aside to listen to a hurting co-worker. I once heard a father say, “I don’t get why it takes you so long to put the children to bed. I do it in five minutes.” How long does it take to put a child to bed, to comfort a hurting friend or sort out a spat between siblings? The answer cannot be answered in clock time. It’s over when the child is settled, when the friend feels calmed and when the children have made an agreement.
- Ask a friend or family to be your accountable buddy. Knowing someone is going to check up on you will you stay resolved to keep your commitment.
- If none of these ideas work, explore if you are committing to the wrong tasks. Maybe you are in the wrong job, career path, or relationship. Find out what the real barrier to you meeting expectations is truly about.
Questions? Ask them. Comments? Make them. Let me know about your efforts to stop procrastinating.