‘If you don’t stop, you will finish faster.’ My friend constantly repeats this statement when we do our daily evening runs because I’m always feeling like I need to stop before getting to the finish line. This statement has stuck in my mind and I use it to motivate myself while undertaking other projects. The sooner I finish, the sooner I can get away from that activity and the pain. And that’s how I have been able to beat a lot of procrastination in most of my habits.
Then there’s this powerful quote;
The ability to perform deep work is becoming increasingly rare at exactly the same time it is becoming increasingly valuable in our economy. As a consequence, the few who cultivate this skill, and then make it the core of their working life, will thrive – Cal Newport
This means that as an adult if you haven’t gotten yourself to a point in your life where you have defeated procrastination, you are failing. According to the quote above, you are either among the very few people who are succeeding or you are among the people who are struggling. Are you ready to take responsibility for your life in order to succeed?
Procrastination is the avoidance or the action of postponing or delaying something. This means deciding to do something at a later date or time that you are meant to do now. A lot of people put things off until the last minute. Some people, however, are chronic procrastinators. This means they put postpone everything that is likely to cause them pain or struggle.
Some synonyms for procrastination are postponing, delay, defer or hesitate.
Causes of Procrastination
1. Everybody has an excuse for doing it
You are not the only one who is stuck in this situation. A majority of the world population is. This is why there are so many motivation videos, blogs, books and even music out there. There are millions of excuses that different people make to procrastinate. What is your excuse?
You have used the excuse ‘I don’t have time’ a million times. You have also heard it from people a lot too. The reason why a lot of people use this excuse is that they are unable to prioritize tasks. The next time you want to use the excuse ‘I don’t have time’, replace it with ‘It’s not a priority’ and see how that feels. I bet you already feel guilty? Good. Take action.
A lot of people fear to make mistakes and therefore end up postponing important tasks for a later date. This fear is built on the fact that you are worried that your weakness will be exposed. You, therefore, avoid doing some tasks to ensure that people don’t see you as less perfect. This fear drives you to set aside the tasks for a later date. This is procrastinating judgment from people. It is important to remember that you will never achieve perfection, so go ahead and do it!
4. Do you really need to?
Take, for example, your current job has a toxic work environment but you still get paid enough to live comfortably. You hate your job, know you should leave because it’s affecting you, but the money keeps you there. Have you ever been in a similar situation? This is a very common reason to procrastinate. You will only stop procrastinating if the situation leaves you no choice or messes you up completely. Until then, you will keep making excuses.
5. Overwhelming schedule
When you have so much to do and especially if you do not prioritize, you procrastinate on important tasks. You freeze. When you have so many upcoming deadlines, you end up feeling like it’s impossible to accomplish it all. This sometimes leads you to do the unimportant things such as replying to an email that is not urgent. This is all in a bid to escape the pressure. To overcome this, put first things first then go ahead and do them.
6. Lack of skills
Have you ever been asked to perform a certain task but you did not have the skills to do it? Like most people, you probably saw this as an obstacle towards achieving success in this task. This makes one give up on the task even before they start. This leads to procrastination due to self-doubt. Cultivate a habit of continuous learning in order to acquire as many skills as possible.
7. Lack of interest
Ever been given a job by your boss that you have zero interest in? Did you delay doing it while you concentrated on things that you are passionate about? This happens to so many people. It’s harder to find the motivation to do things that you don’t like especially at work. In the example above, you could look for somebody who is passionate in that particular area and swap the task with something you love.
How to Overcome Procrastination
Why do you choose not to do the things we really know you are meant to be doing? Studies have proved that we procrastinate because what we should be doing brings pain-physical or mental- or it is not as pleasurable as what we are currently doing.
- The Pain of Doing-This is both physical and mental pain that comes with doing what you are meant to. For example the sweat, fear, and tears.
- The Pain of Not Doing-These are the negative consequences of procrastination. For example, you getting fired from your job, failing an exam or disappointment.
- The Pleasure of Doing-These are the benefits you get from doing what you are meant to do. For example, pride, acknowledgement, gifts.
- The Pleasure of Not Doing-These are things like comfort, the feeling of rebellion and other things in your comfort zone such as watching TV.
Given any action, the above four factors balance against one another to give you a bias against either procrastination or action. It’s for you to choose which two combinations you want to experience.
For you to achieve great things in life, you must be willing to push against the things that your mind tries to resist. Human beings are inherently lazy and it’s your responsibility to push against this in order to achieve success.
Every day, before retiring to bed, write a list of things you intend to achieve the next day. Read The Seven Habits of Highly effective people especially the habit of ‘putting first things first.’ Always prioritize the most important and urgent things.