Have you ever wondered why, with all the information available to each of us both on-line and off-line, that procrastination is still such a widespread phenomenon?
Have you ever wondered why, despite your healthy level of motivation and your able body, your procrastination keeps interfering with the best plans you have for yourself?
Much of the current literature about being better at time and task management lacks information on the reasons why procrastination takes a hold of us and is so hard to break away from.
Why You Haven’t Tried to Stop Procrastinating
In order to stop procrastinating, we need to take a closer look at our thoughts and feelings about our work and ourselves. Without this crucial step, old patterns of delay and avoidance will come back into play quickly after we make our attempts to change our behaviors.
So, where do we begin?
Here are 6 reasons why you probably haven’t tried to stop procrastinating:
1) You Assume Your Procrastination is Unchangeable and Here to Stay
Many of us have been procrastinating since early high school, so it seems difficult to realize we are fully capable of working without stressing ourselves out. Missing deadlines, and doing our most important work at the last minute was the main cause.
You can change your work style. It will take patience and practice and perseverance, but you are capable of all three.
2) You Avoid Difficult Tasks Which Might Cause Painful Feelings
It is completely understandable that you might gravitate towards the short-term pleasure of avoiding your work or making difficult decisions rather than going through the paces of doing your work and grappling with what you have to decide.
However, what is unfortunate about routinely taking the short-term pleasure route is we end up missing opportunities to learn, to grow, and to master what we try. Know that you can endure the work that you choose to do. You will become accustomed to the pattern of doing your work and feeling relieved and rewarded once you begin taking small steps in your work again.
3) You Have a Negative Outlook and/or Low Self-Esteem
There are so many factors which can cause us to feel less-than-good-enough. Too many to start going into here.
What’s most important is that you heal from the hurt that forces you to feel badly about yourself and your future. Consult with a mentor or a therapist if you feel you are not able to recover on your own from the thoughts and feelings that hold you back from reaching your potential.
There is no need for you to be saddled with the feeling that things won’t go your way.
There is no need for you to expect criticism every time you’ve made your best effort. You have more capacity for action than you have even begun to explore. Move past your own doubts and see how much can happen.
4) You Feel Chronically Over-Scheduled and Overwhelmed
Procrastinators get behind on tasks and then those tasks start to pile up.
It’s harder to do good work when we are constantly thinking about how overwhelmed and behind we are. Start fixing this difficult cycle right away. Take a look at your schedule and get rid of everything that is non-essential: the errands, the binge TV watching, the getting into everyone else’s business.
You’ll be surprised at how much time you can rescue from a single week when you are mindful about how you spend your time. Once you have “created” more space in your schedule, start to attack your to-do list, getting rid of each task one by one until the task is manageable. Maintain your progress by saying “no” to all but the most essential requests that others might make of you.
This process might take months to complete, but it will be worth your time and efforts.
5) You Are Socially Isolated
Procrastinators, even the extroverted ones, tend to suffer from a relatively limited social life because they feel they cannot socialize until they get their act together. Ironically, this social isolation makes our procrastination worse.
We become disconnected to the reasons we do our work when we become disconnected from other people. We don’t have feedback, we don’t get encouragement, we don’t get advice when we work in isolation. We do get stuck though.
Make sure you start re-establishing the connections you had before your procrastination started to take over and don’t forget to make brand new connections too.
6) You Haven’t Gotten Around to it
This may be the biggest reason why people don’t do things they want to do.
There is no apparent urgent reason to act and so no action happens. For example, we may stare at ugly carpeting for years without ever ripping it up, even though that could be done in one weekend. Here’s where knowing how to determine what your priority is comes into play.
When you identify the most important area for you to address — and keep that in your focus until it is addressed fully — you will feel a greater sense of freedom in the situation that results.
Here’s your remedy for your difficulty getting away from procrastination: Find your priority and then take your action steps:
Act like a manager in your own life and determine what is the one major area in your life that needs urgent attention.
Might it be your finances? Your health? Your relationship? The clutter in your apartment?
Once you determine the area, then determine the next three doable action steps you need to take in order to make a dent. That is all we are going for right now — a dent. Write those three actions steps down and give yourself a total of three days to get all of them done.
In going through this process, you give yourself the benefit of having a doable action, a time limit, and a noticeable positive outcome. You will be simultaneously teaching yourself about the power of small, consistent, planned action which is one of the most powerful, if not the most powerful tool against procrastination there is.
Avoid feeling overwhelmed as that feeling is the trigger which thrusts you back into the cycle of procrastination.
Don’t just act like a manager — be the manager. You are the manager of your own life.
Get used to being in that role and taking care of even the smallest details in your day in order to rid yourself of procrastination and to feel at your best. You are capable of that responsibility and no one and nothing can shake you from that powerful role once you learn how to occupy it.
Your procrastination habit won’t stand a chance.