Source: tiny buddha
Going into 2022, my only resolution was to procrastinate less. But, given that my most used phrase recently has been “I haven’t started that yet”, I think it’s safe to say that the whole resolution thing didn’t exactly work out for me. And I’m pretty sure it’s not just me who struggles to “procrastinate less”. In fact, I’m pretty sure you’re procrastinating something else by reading this article right now but stick around and hopefully you’ll find the motivation you need to get back to your task.
Procrastination: “the action of delaying or postponing something”
To many, this may just sound like another word for laziness but science has spoken and science says that there is definitely much more to procrastination than just “being lazy”. Let’s go through them together.
You believe you won’t fail if you don’t try.
We often hold ourselves to high standards, wanting everything we do to be perfect. That pressure makes us put off the task for as long as we possibly can so that we don’t taint our own work. In this case, perfectionism works against us as it prevents us from even getting started with the task at hand. If you find yourself nodding your head, thinking to yourself “This kind of sounds like me”, then give this a go.
Tell yourself you’re going to just start the task you have to get done. Spend 10 minutes to start and you’ll find that these 10 minutes was the push you needed to finish your task.
You’re relying on pressure to finish your work.
A lot of us work better under pressure. However, relying on this pressure to finish your work becomes problematic when there’s a lot to get done in the same time period. This reliance on time pressure also means you’re training yourself to not be able to do work at other timings, which is an additional constraint you’re putting on yourself.
If this sounds like you, then set an alternative deadline for yourself. It may take some time for your brain to listen to the deadline you set for yourself, but be patient with it and actually follow through. This way, you’ll be able to complete tasks when you want to get it done instead of relying on the day/night before it is due to give you the motivation you need to get it done.
There is too much to do, and you don’t know where to start.
It’s normal to feel overwhelmed, whether it’s by how complex the task is or by how much you have to get it done. Your brain is overwhelmed and hence looks for the easy way out which is procrastinating to find easier tasks to do instead of doing the big, scary one. This makes it even more nerve-wracking when you cannot put it off any longer and need to complete the task. Personally, I’ve gone through this situation a lot and it almost always ends with me breaking down.
The good news is that science has a recommendation. Start with doing something simple, just so you know that you have started (our brains are wired to seek completion). Once something easy is done, go for something hard to create momentum. Take your time with the hard part and ideally, reach out to someone who can brainstorm/help you think of the solution. This momentum will allow you to tackle the task bit by bit until you’ve finished it.
You get distracted way too much
This is less likely to be an unconscious decision to sabotage and put off work and more likely to be how your environment is set up. Are you surrounded by talkative friends? Or is your phone face-up on your table lighting up every time you get a new notification? Given the fact that our brains aren’t wired to focus for long periods of time, your environment could just be making this a lot harder for you to get your things done. The solution for this is pretty simple.
Know what type of environment works for you. If you don’t already, take some time to experiment so that you can make sure to be in a conducive environment that allows you to make the most of your time. This will result in fewer distractions which means you are able to get things done quickly and efficiently.
You just don’t want to do it
You just don’t have the motivation to do your work. It happens to the best of us and can often make us feel like we are in a slump. It’s a pretty frustrating feeling but there are ways to get through it.
Try some light exercise to get your brain working. This could help stimulate the energy you need to get started on your work and once you have started, you will find that you have a lot more motivation to finish your work.
This is definitely not an exhaustive list but I hope these reasons resonate with you and the advice offers you some solace. Procrastination is normal and although it’s frustrating, there are certain steps you can take based on why you are procrastinating.
Now that you’ve reached the end, it’s time for you to take the first step and get started on whatever it is on your to-do list that you’ve been avoiding! I’m rooting for you and all the best :)