Pushing that assignment onto tomorrow's to-do list when it could have and should have been done today. Postponing that phone call til the end of the day, but realising that it's too late to phone by the time the end of the day arrives. Planning to re-arrange your wardrobe, but pushing it off week by week, until new items have been added/moved around, and it's messier than ever before.
We've all been there.
I've found that identifying the causes of procrastination is often a great way to stop it right from the start - the perfect place to end this time-wasting habit.
So, let's look at some top reasons why people procrastinate and it might even help you to point out reasons why you might be procrastinating on something that keeps re-appearing on your recent to-do lists.
Procrastinate with me a little longer, until you've read this article - then off to work!
This is absolutely one of the top reasons why I'm likely to procrastinate on a task. How about you? Feel free to comment at the end of the post, letting me know which of the reasons most applies to you.
Feeling overwhelmed can make it easier for you to completely hide away from everything you have to do. When we feel overwhelmed by the amount of things we have to do, it's common for us to want to bury our heads in the sand, and sometimes there's even a bit of curiosity as to how things will pan out by the next day.
Let me tell you something: When you feel overwhelmed by the multitude of tasks you have to do, you're probably not just going to work through the list and quit halfway.
The reality is you're much more likely to never start working.
Nothing gets done.
Obviously though, getting at least one item accomplished is a lot better than doing nothing, even if you were hoping for a higher success rate on all those tasks. One way to combat this issue is by trying to prioritise the tasks you need to do and picking out the one thing that matters most.
That's often a lot more manageable mentally, and once you're done the first item, you'll likely feel more motivated to power through the rest of the list.
I have to admit that sometimes starting a blog post seems incredibly overwhelming, but it helps when I break the task down, and start by writing a section or sub-heading, instead of telling myself that I'm going to write the whole thing at one sitting.
After I've jumped over that initial mental hurdle, I do normally go on to write the whole post in one sitting...
Another reason why you might be procrastinating on something important is because you're really exhausted. Maybe you've finished a long day at work or school, but you get home and know you've got other obligations whether these obligations are to your friends, family, or even yourself (let's say you've committed to a personal project).
You just can't get to work, because you don't have the strength. The good thing is this is usually one of the easiest causes of procrastination to fix. Moving yourself from one mental state to another can be as simple as moving yourself to a better physical state. Why not take a quick 20 minute power nap, hydrate yourself or have a shower and a hot meal?
I don't know about you, but I can't concentrate on accomplishing anything when I'm hungry.
Refreshing yourself will make you feel happier and more satisfied, and will help you to think bigger and more creatively, which will do wonders for your productivity.
Another reason why you might be procrastinating is because you've become distracted by little tasks.
As useful as the internet can be, this is a trap we all can easily fall into when we're working on a computer.
It is remarkably easy to slide open another tab and have a peek on social media or even getting caught up in something semi-productive like checking emails or scheduling. However, the truth is, if that's not the reason you turned on your computer, you shouldn't be doing it until you've got the main task done.
This reason is as much a cause of procrastination as it is a consequence of procrastination.
If you find that you keep straying away from the main task, because you're fixated by little non-essentials tasks, why not create a visual aid and put it right on your desk in front of you?
This visual aid could be a post-it note with the main task in capital letters. You could get very artistic and draw little arrows and a nice bold border around this task, helping you to make a mental imprint of the task's importance.
Glancing at this reminder will help you stay on track and avoid doing everything else but the task that really counts.
Another reason why you may be procrastinating on a task (and instead doing little, nonessential tasks), is because the main task just seems really complicated.
A fear of failure can certainly paralyse you from taking action and make you hang out in your comfort zone by doing smaller tasks that you know you can complete without any problem.
When a task seems difficult, you can't stop thinking about it, yet the perceived intensity of the task repels you from getting started on it.
Sometimes the task you need to accomplish is not as difficult as it might appear from a distance, and if you got stuck in, you'd soon realise that there was no need to be so worried.
However, sometimes a task really is difficult.
When a task is difficult you need to give yourself extra time to accomplish it, to allow for the time you might spend making mistakes and learning how to do it properly.
When you procrastinate because of fear, it only makes the situation worse because a) the task doesn't get any easier and b) you're left with an issue that you now have to resolve at the last minute, when the pressure is extremely high and you've lost valuable working-time.
In other words, if you procrastinate because you're scared of failing, you will most likely fail because you've not given yourself enough time to work through the problem.
So, how can you manage such a fear of failing?
One way is by identifying helpful resources right from the start. Ask yourself: If I find myself struggling later, where are the places and who are the people I can turn to for help?
Create a plan of action to help you get over potential obstacles. This way, you'll be more relaxed at the thought of getting started, because you know where to turn next if you get stuck.
Also, remind yourself of a very important fact - the earlier you start a difficult task, the more room you give yourself to correct mistakes and learn fast. It's ironic, because getting started is the thing you least feel like doing when you're afraid and apprehensive, but ultimately it gives you more options, tools and flexibility to work towards stellar results.
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