Why are you reading this article?
It is a fact universally acknowledged, that most people who ‘google’ articles on self-development and the likes are usually not the real people with the problem. Most often than not, we read such articles in order to help a friend or family member overcome their deficiencies in character; and other times, vanity gives us an application.
The real people with the problem, most often never seek out solutions, and when they do, barely go halfway through the article. This is especially true for people suffering from procrastination.
Am I procrastinating?
Now, I am not going to bore you with the etymology of the word and the likes, I am just going to plainly state that procrastination is more than a mere delay in action; for delay, could be unintended, and in some cases, yield positive results. Procrastination is an intended delay; and most often than not, born out of laziness and apathy. It involves putting off what we know we shouldn’t, and as obvious as it may sometimes be, we find ourselves eluding the fact that we’re actually procrastinating; for our methods of avoiding tasks are not without wit.
Why do we procrastinate?
The reason why people procrastinate can never be fully understood; but most times, it’s simply a problem of motivation. We find it easier to do certain things when we know there’s a reward that comes with the completion of the task; but other times, being aware of the proposed reward isn’t enough to stop us from procrastinating. When it comes to procrastination, we most often than not, do it, without good reason.
There are other major factors that may play a role in procrastination, such as depression; fear (of success or failure); apparent tediousness of the task; inability to set priorities; location; lack of discipline; or simply not knowing what to do. Before reading further, it’s important to take a moment, and determine the main reason for your procrastination.
Strategies to use:
1. Seek professional help
In the case of depression, it is really hard to get a tangible result without seeking professional help through counselling. People suffering from depression, often find it difficult to apply themselves to anything. The best way to solving depression-caused procrastination, is to tackle the depression itself, by seeking the help of counsellors or healthcare providers. While the intent of wanting to overcome the said depression, is important; it’s also equally important to seek professional help, or it would be all for not.
2. Overcome the fear of failure
Fear is a major factor when it comes to procrastination. The fear of failure could be linked to self-doubt. People, who are afraid of failing, may likely never even begin the task. Their fear is not to be seen as being incompetent; as they are easily bothered with other people’s opinion of them. They would rather have others think their failure, resulted from a lack of effort, than ability. But other people’s opinion about you should be of no consequence. Don’t be overly worried about how you’re perceived by others.
On the other hand, those who procrastinate, from the fear of being successful, do so because success, as good and welcomed as it may be, usually comes with a lot of responsibilities and uncertainties. They are afraid of the attention or status they will incur with the completion of the said task.
The real problem is one with responsibility; and it would be helpful to focus on the advantages that accompany such responsibilities, rather than the work that accompanies them. For example, a promotion may come with new responsibilities; but also comes with a higher pay, and prospects for something more.
3. Apply the “bits and pieces approach”
When a task seems too cumbersome, it could be helpful to take the ‘bits and pieces approach’. Instead of starting the task immediately, you could do anything in connection to the task; while this may seem as a means of procrastination, it’s important to note that whatever you choose to do should deliberately lead you to accomplish the task.
For example, when you find it hard to study a topic given at school, you could do a research on the said topic first, instead of studying it directly. Knowing more about something and how it could be applied in your daily life, could make it indelibly easier. The goal is to start with something less tedious. So, you could choose to share the task into bits; and then start with the easy ones, and gradually work your way up till the task doesn’t seem impossible to do.
4. Approach your tasks based on priorities
It’s very easy to mistake the inability of setting priorities, with lack of time management. Most often than not, we don’t get to accomplish what we ought, not because there wasn’t enough time, but because we didn’t set our priorities straight. Act based on what is important and not on the desires of the moment.
If after prioritizing you still find yourself procrastinating, then it may be more of a problem of distraction and less of priority. Try using those things which divert your attention from what’s important, as rewards after finishing the task. Having an incentive could go a long way.
5. Change your environment
The influence of our environment should never be underestimated. Studies have shown that students are more inclined to procrastinate when in the library or hall of residence. When in the library, students are usually overwhelmed by the amount of information surrounding them, and feel they should be reading more; neglecting what they’d already selected.
Being distracted in the hall of residence goes without saying; the noise from other students is distraction enough, but students sometimes get directly offered more tempting and gratifying ways to spend time. It would be very helpful to change one’s location in such cases. If you notice you’re more likely to turn on the TV than continuing a task, you could go to a part of the house that does not offer such temptations.
6. Exercise self-discipline
All the above mentioned solutions would be all for not, if we lack self-discipline. It is very important to be able to sometimes say no to the ‘yearnings of our flesh’. Whenever you feel the urge to abandon a task, or lack the eagerness to start; refuse such delirious aversion, and choose to carry on or start.
Of course, the power to say no to one’s self doesn’t come in a day’s reading of an article. Persistence in action and determination, usually does the trick.