Procrastination. It's one of those words that we kind of avoid talking about because we think that it's a "bad word" or that it only applies to those who are in certain periods in their lives. That being said, there are a lot of things that we can procrastinate on, and honestly, it doesn't just apply to work or school. We could totally avoid certain events in our lives, or we can push off conversations that we have to have with people that we love. For some of us, "putting things off" is in our blood and we try to do everything that we can in order to do so.
But can we change these habits? Absolutely. Just because you're a serial procrastinator doesn't mean that you're stuck being a procrastinator for the rest of your life. You don't have to feel like you're always going to be the person who gets stuff done at the last minute. In our article today, we're going to take a closer look at procrastination, at why people may get into the habit of procrastinating, and what we can do to correct those habits. So don't delay! Get reading this article so that you can stop pushing everything else off that needs to get done as well.
What is Procrastination?
This may sound a little silly to ask, because most people will give you a basic definition of procrastination if you ask them about it on the street. In short, procrastination is about delaying what you have to do for one reason or another. So the question isn't necessarily what procrastination is itself, but instead what procrastination is caused by. Why in the world do we take the time to procrastinate? Why do we push off the things that we need to get done? There are actually a few reasons that this can happen to us, and it all depends on your personality and other related things.
First off, it may be stress that causes you to put things off. This sounds really odd, but it's true. Some people think that stress should cause you to get things done more quickly, when in all honesty it may overwhelm you and make it more difficult for you to get past the start phases of a project. Think about it - if your house is a mess, and you look at it and you want to clean it, you may hesitate because you feel absolutely overwhelmed about the whole thing. There's so much to do, so it's easier to just push it off instead of trying to tackle the mess that there is. Apply that to whatever is going on in your life, and you may see why you've been pushing it off so much.
Some people will procrastinate because they believe that they do better when a deadline is looming over their heads. They "work better under pressure." For some people,t his actually is true. If they are feeling pressured to do something, then they are going to be more apt to finish it. But, of course the question is, how well will they finish it? Will they be able to do the same quality of work as a result of what they've done, or will they just throw it together and hope to goodness that it turns out how it needs to turn out? So although this makes sense in some ways, for most people, it's just another excuse to procrastinate.
In some cases, it's fear that causes people to procrastinate, or even a phobia. There are some people who struggle with something that is called telephobia, that is, a fear of talking on the telephone. I'm someone who has been plagued with this for most of my life, so I fully understand how stressful it can be. From my own experience, I've procrastinated on more phone calls than I can even start to count. Even if it's a phone call where I'm making an appointment, the fear makes it really difficult for me to break out and actually make the phone call. Do I do it eventually? Absolutely - because I have to and I know that it's good for me. But I will push it off and push it off until I absolutely have to do it, instead of just getting it out of the way.
Of course, I say all this and then it comes to the question - why is this necessarily bad? Well first off, as we mentioned above, the quality of work involved may not be as good if you've pushed it off for a long period of time. We may slack off and let whatever it is be of inferior quality to other things that we are doing with our lives. Procrastination is also bad for us because it causes us undue stress, and as you likely know, stress can do a number of things to our body so that it doesn't function at the potential that it needs to function at. Stress can cause all sorts of diseases and make us more prone to illness because our immune system is compromised. It also is unpleasant - come on, who wants to have a deadline looming over their head for an extended period of time?
How Can We Correct Our Bad Procrastination Habits?
So now that we know what procrastination is, why it can be a problem, and why it happens, we're going to the obvious next step which is "how are we supposed to deal with our bad procrastination habits?" Some of us have been fighting procrastination for years and years; how are we supposed to change the way that we function in order to make sure that what needs to get done does get done within a reasonable period of time? Thankfully, I have a few tips here that can help you to start breaking the procrastination habit that you've had for such a long period of time.
Make to-do lists. This is an easy way to deal with your procrastination because it involves taking everything that you have to do and breaking it down into little, reasonable sized chunks that you can work with. By making to do lists, you have a visual reminder of exactly what you want to do and how you want to get things done in an orderly manner. Having everything orderly will help to reduce stress and it will give you a starting point where you can start to work from, which will make it more likely for you to actually get started with the tasks that are at hand.
Reward yourself when you have completed a task ahead of time. Sometimes, all we need is a little bit of motivation for us to get started with a project - or to finish it. By giving yourself a reward at the end of a task, project, or to do list, you're going to find that it's much easier to motivate yourself to move forward. You can do anything that you want as a reward, from being able to enjoy one of your favorite hobbies, to going to see a movie that you have been wanting to check out, to going out to dinner with a friend or family member that you've wanted to spend time with. The reward has to be something you enjoy.
Learn how to "turn off" your moods when it comes to sitting down and getting stuff done. Sometimes we let our moods drive us too much. When we do that, we don't get things done as quickly as we need to get them done, and we can get distracted very easily. So, you need to learn how to turn those off and just start moving forward with the things that you want to do. Obviously, if you're tired or hungry you can address that properly, but the whole thing of "I really just don't feel like doing this" is something that you just have to learn to ignore so that you can prosper.
Look for accountability in those around you. If you need some support, find it! Your spouse, your family, and your friends can help to give you the motivation that you need in order to get stuff done. Only ask a friend or two to keep you accountable, however, because otherwise it may make you more stressed out to have a dozen people asking you the same things over and over again. One or two friends will be able to help keep you on track without totally overwhelming you.
Stop looking for excuses and just start to get your rear end in gear. Stop it! I know it's hard to stop making excuses, especially when you aren't really sure what you're going to do with a project that you're working on, but you have to nip those excuses in the bud as soon as possible. The more quickly you put your foot down and get in control of what you're doing with a project or task, the better off you will be. Turn off the "excuse" button, pull up your pants, and move forward with what you're trying to do.
Do everything that you can to make sure that you have the self discipline that you need. In short, you need to be disciplined. Discipline is something that isn't as valued as it used to be, and because of that, many of us haven't even learned how to be self disciplined. The tips above will definitely help you with that, but it will also give you the ability to deal with other things in your life better as well. Self discipline is a lost art, and it's up to you to find it within yourself. As you work on everything related to your procrastination, you will find that other areas of your life will fall into place as well, which can be really helpful.
Sometimes, we need a little bit of help in order to be able to get through the bad habits that we have. There may be underlying issues that we didn't realize existed, as well. Because of that, it's more important than ever for us to make sure that we are getting the help that we need to overcome some of the things that we are fighting in our daily lives. So consider going and seeing a therapist if procrastination may be a sign of a bigger issue in your life. There are a lot of things that it could play into, so if we don't talk about it and get the help we need, we may have a harder time overcoming the habits that we have developed. Don't give up - you don't have to go through the whole thing in your own. There are support groups out there and there are even classes that are available so that you can learn how to manage your time better and stop procrastination. You can overcome the frustration that comes with bad procrastination habits with some help from the resources that you have available in your community.
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