Procrastination is a real issue for many, if not most, people – students, professionals, entrepreneurs, and the unemployed. It happens to the young and old alike. It might be actively losing you money or burying opportunities that could take you to the next level in your career or private life.
Not only would you be forfeiting valuable chances and/or suffering financial loss, but when you procrastinate, you are plunged into a most uncomfortable state of anxiety, stress, and fatigue as the task you are avoiding continues haunting you and sapping your morale.
When procrastination becomes habitual and chronic, you may begin to experience depression, insomnia, low self-esteem, ADHD, and even hypertension, and other forms of physical illness. Not to mention deteriorating relationships as people start losing faith in you. It could even cost you your job.
Why am I procrastinating?
Of course, everyone has their lazy days, when you simply can’t summon the will to get anything done. And it’s OK to just let go and goof off for a while. You may even come back energized, inspired, and pumped to clear stuff off your plate. That’s a different matter.
Procrastination, on the other hand, is an entirely unique ball game. It usually occurs when you have the impression that the task you are meant to undertake is complex, unpalatable, or would take time.
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For some people, the condition stems from their perfectionist tendencies: The impulsive nature of wanting to get everything just right, and the fear of failure or falling short of their own perceived expectations. So they keep putting things off until they can attain the right level of motivation or readiness.
For others, the problem is a result of overstimulation from social media and other forms of entertainment – activities that trigger the pleasure centers of the brain and now make you unable to focus on important things, which you may now find boring in comparison.
What to do
If you realize that your procrastinating is getting out of hand, use these ideas to break free:
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1. Identify your fears
When you are harbouring undefined fears pertaining to an undone task, it’s only natural that you’d begin to postpone since the said task represents or might cause an unpleasantness you’d rather avoid.
To overcome this state, you need to put your finger on what it is you fear. Either write them down or speak them out. Yes, even those that seem ridiculous or insignificant. Doing so will help you gain clarity and empower you to finally take action.
2. Take a baby step
You might be procrastinating because you are looking at the work in its entirety, thus, getting intimidated by it. Why not dive in? Decide to commit for just 10 minutes. Once you do that, you may get into a flow and won’t wish to stop until the task is done.
Also, remind yourself that you don’t need to get everything right the first time. Permit yourself to start messy, and improve upon it later. Remember: Action breeds clarity.
3. Set actionable goals
It could be that you are not being productive because you have grandiose dreams; dreams that are not very close to home. Such visualizations pump you full of dopamine and suspend you in a feel-good state. So when it comes down to doing the actual work, you find yourself slacking. If things now happen to get difficult in any way, you lose motivation completely.
If you hope to get things done, break your big dreams down into small, doable goals. And start with the easiest, least-objectionable aspect. Or if you prefer, tackle the scariest aspect first. That will give you a boost to overcome the rest. Taking decisive, manageable actions makes it possible for you to eventually see things through.
4. Attach the task to an already established habit
One way to stop avoiding a duty is to link it to another activity that you are already used to. For instance, if you can’t get yourself to start writing that proposal, take it up as soon as you arrive at the office or do it while having lunch.
If you are not fond of washing the dishes, then wash them immediately after you finish cooking or once you are done eating.